How to learn about mattresses

This post is going to make a lot of people unhappy, so let’s keep the comments happy and productive!

We’ve covered the basics of mattresses on this site, but when you are making this important purchase, you are surely going to want to learn a tremendous amount about your options and different products that interest you.

Mattress buying who can you trust?

Your natural instinct will be to go to a mattress store – there are plenty of them all over the place.  And if you were to purchase any other item – like a car, new kitchen, television, etc – then you would walk into the store and ask the salesman a bunch of questions to help educate yourself.

Can you trust mattress salesmen?

The quick answer, unfortunately, is no.  According to Slumber Sage, the incentives in the mattress world do not work to the consumer’s advantage.  When you walk into the mattress store, you are going to be directed to the company and model that gives the salesman the highest commission – and this isn’t always the most expensive mattress!  Manufacturers strategically price their mattresses to offer a large commission to the salesmen so that their mattresses are pushed to the front of the line when a customer comes in asking questions.  Follow updates on this issue from Slumber Sage on Vimeo and Pinterest.

Thus if you ask a general question, say, “which is the best memory foam mattress?” where will you be directed?  To the mattress with the highest ratings?  To the mattress with the highest quality foams?  No, you will be taken to the mattress where the salesman can definitely make a quick buck off of you. The model that is actually best for you may not even be in the store, but the sales person will never tell you that, because they want to make a sale on the spot.

Can you buy a mattress online?

Certainly it’s possible, yes.  But there is a lot of noise on the internet as well.  Mattress companies figured out how to manipulate the online ratings long ago. Many of them have customers who purchased a mattress rate them immediately after the online purchase, thus not reviewing the actual product, but more the experience of buying the mattress (which is good for online companies).  Plus, there are many shills on the internet trying to misinform you with cherry-picked information.

Where can we go?

Go to the people in your life that you trust.  We know that you’ve rarely talked about mattresses with your friends and family, but bring it up.  Ask them about their experience sleeping on a particular mattress brand, and how it help up 5 years after purchase.  Ask them what they like about it, what they do not like about it, and if they are sleeping well.  These types of candid personal reviews are invaluable, but are often not taken advantage of by most consumers.

Learn about Foams

When you’re thinking about a mattress, the big question is foam vs spring/coil. What do these terms mean?  Well, it’s pretty self explanatory, and if you have access to each type of mattress, you’ll easily see the difference.

Spring mattress benefits

A spring mattress is one that has springs within it made of metal.  This is a classic mattress that was an innovation at the end of the 19th century.  These mattresses vary widely in their quality, dependent on the quality and number of strings, as well as the quality of the surrounding cloth.  The idea is that your weight is distributed fairly evenly across the many springs, aligning your spine and providing good support and comfort as you sleep.

Foam mattress benefits

There are two main types of foams available, latex foam and memory foam.  Both of these foams were created more recently than the spring mattress, and only gained popularity in the last 20 years or so in the mattress world.

This video has an overview of memory foam vs latex foam

The thing to know about foam mattresses is that they are generally considered to be better, however they are often significantly more expensive than a spring mattress.  They also tend to sleep hot, which means that the foam absorbs and retains your heat, increasing the temperature of the sleeping surface throughout the night.

As for memory foam vs latex foam, they both are generally good, but latex in its original foam was totally natural (now there are synthetic versions) and memory foam is chemically based.  In terms of feel, they are quite similar, in that they conform to the body position of the sleeper – though latex is a bit springier than memory foam.

What is the best mattress?

We have just started talking about the subject, and you can already tell that it’s a difficult question to answer.  Much of it depends on you, considering factors like your age, your sleep needs, your preferences, and allergies.  Not to mention the price point.

We recommend really thinking about our article what to thing about when buying a mattress as a starting point.  We also have a great article on adjustable beds, which require a foam mattress.  Thus if an adjustable bed is for you, you can instantly narrow your options.

The mattress you sleep on can really impact your quality of life, so do your research!

What mattress goes with my adjustable bed?

Many of our readers have been asking a great deal about adjustable beds.  In case you haven’t seen an adjustable bed, heres a video example of some electric adjustable beds that can demonstrate the concept.

Adjustable beds have been popular for many years, but primarily with older generations because it helps the elderly sit up in bed and sit more comfortably for long periods of time in bed.  However, with the recent focus on back pain, the adjustable bed is becoming popular with new generations.

So now we understand the adjustable bed, but the question is, what mattress best goes with this type of bed?

The best mattress is obvious

Keep in mind that this mattress is going to be regularly bending every which way.  It’s not a far just to discover that every adjustable bed review will tell you the same thing – get a foam mattress.  If you go with a spring or coil mattress, these metal coils are going to be bent regularly, making them misshapen and much less effective in the short and long term.  However with a foam mattress, it is made to be squished and then returned to its regular shape.

Either a memory foam or latex foam mattress will work.  This publication doesn’t have a preference for either, however we do suggest that you check with the adjustable bed manufacturer.  They may have some specific recommendations for their bed.

Welcome to a new era friends!  Now that many young professionals are working from bed, the adjustable bed is going to be increasingly popular.  Make sure to do your research before purchase, and share your experience here on  And remember, a mattress will educate you if it needs to, so take good care of your sleep products.

Types of Mattresses

It’s important that you become educated on the types of mattresses and what the benefits and drawbacks are of each type.  You should educate yourself on this kind of thing before you decide on the exact mattress model you want for yourself.

You should know about latex mattresses.  These are a certain type of foam that is naturally made from rubber tree sap.  However, there have been many scientific advances in this field and now companies are able to much more cheaply make latex synthetically.  Latex is springy and cool.  It will allow the mattress to contour to your body, but it will also give you more feedback.  It can be much heavier than other types of mattress and is probably less good than memory foam when it comes to reducing pressure points.

Memory foam is another very popular type of mattress.  The foam responds to weight.  If you put your hand and push down into it, then the foam will give in and adapt to the weight being applied to it.  As soon as you take your hand away, the foam will slowly return to its natural position.  This fact alone is why memory foam mattresses are so popular.  They are excellent at reducing pressure points and are great for comfort and relieving pain.  The downside to memory foam is that a lot of the mattresses sag over time.  People sometimes don’t like the feeling of getting lost in the mattress. They can sleep hot too, and they also occasionally give off a slight chemical smell.  If the mattresses give too much, then you can develop bad sleeping form and potentially develop back pain over time.

Innerspring mattresses are more traditional.  They take normally steel or some other metal and then turn them into a number of coil units that serve as support as you sleep.  These are normally not as soft as other mattresses, which is why a lot of companies put a pillow top on the mattress.  These mattresses tend to be very supportive and good for back pain.  They also last a fairly long time and definitely are a lot less likely to sag over time.

A mattress will educate you if it needs to

Here on Really Free School, we are naturally big fans of education.  We like it to be free and plentiful, on all sorts of subjects.  As for mattresses, and the surrounding sleep industry, there are plenty of opportunities for you to educate yourself; articles, videos, research studies, or just go down to your local mattress store and ask the salesman a few questions.

Mattress teacher

However, we find that most people that come looking for mattress education are much later in life.  And they often come in partially educated, but not through anything that they sought out – rather they have a hands-on education; years ago they bought the cheapest mattress that they could find, and this mattress became the worst kind of teacher.  This mattress prodded them, didn’t support them, absorbed things in the air and regurgitated it to them, so that after many years they had learned that having a low-quality mattress gives you back pain, sleep problems, and a lifetime of issues.

Unfortunately once they arrive here, we have the unfortunate task of teaching that that it’s almost impossible to reverse the damage.  The best mattress comparison analysis doesn’t change history.  That sure if you had treated your 20 year old back with care, it would be in great shape.  But at the age of 45, you’re not going to just buy a new mattress and feel like a youth.  You’ll definitely feel better, particularly in the long run, but damage has been done.

Fortunately, after the damage has been done, people come willing to learn.  Bad mattress buying habits are quickly thrown away and forgotten, and they come ready to get the top high end mattress – but more importantly they have a mentality that they are investing in their future health.  This mentality is great for buying a bed, and even better for an approach to life.  Maybe you won’t see the benefits tomorrow, but you’ll feel much better than you would have otherwise years later.  A lesson that is learned with time, and a lesson that unfortunately takes much wisdom to acquire.



How to choose a mattress

One of the most valuable educational experiences of my life was learning how to choose a mattress.  A mattress is a place where you spend one third of your life.  If you make the wrong choice, it could have dire consequences!  Follow the steps below to choose a truly quality mattress.

1. Educate yourself

You need to know the vernacular when shopping for any item, in particular mattresses.  What is firm vs soft?  Should you have a pillow top?  Maybe memory foam?  How much should you spend?  Just google around mattress sites to figure out what options are available.  Maybe you want an adjustable bed?  If so check out the best Reverie adjustable mattress review on the web.

2. Decide how firm you want your mattress to be

If you have back pain or other muscle related ailments, you should go with a firmer mattress, even if trading off comfort.  If you are seeking more comfort over support due to youth or hedonism, then go for a softer mattress or pillow top.

3. Choose a size

Standard, double, queen, king, or california king.  These are all standard sizes, so choose based on your preference, as well as the size of your bed frame or available space.

4. Find a brand that you trust

There are a lot of mattress companies out there.  Do your best to find one that really works for you.  Go to a few stores and try them out.  Talk with the sales people and see how straightforward they are with you about the product.  Great example of a recommendation is a review of Verlo by Slumber Sage.

5.  Test the mattresses

Go to a friend’s house and sleep on a serious candidate if possible.  Otherwise spend some time in the store laying down, sitting, and seeing how each one feels.

6.  Ask about their support and guarantees

Even if you do all the due diligence, you may end up making the wrong choice.  See what their return policy is and for how long you can “test drive” the product.  You should be able to get at least a month for most premium brands.

7. Take it home

And try it out!  Start a journal of how often you feel pain, how often you get up in the night, etc.  Even if this mattress is soft to the touch, it may not be doing the job you need it to do.

8.  Ask about the warranty

No brainer here, you want to be protected.  The warranty should cover up to ten years at least.

9.  Buy the rest of the stuff

Get a bed, box spring, sheets, pillows, all the trimmings.   Most of the money should go to the mattress, but don’t skimp on these items either.  They can definitely have an impact on your sleep experience.

10.  Ask for a better price

Today in the USA it’s not standard to ask a store for a discount.  However this is very common practice in the mattress industry, so don’t be shy and bring your negotiating skills.

Now go out there and make it happen.