What makes mattress shopping seem impossible? Is it the infrequency of purchasing a new mattress? Or with so many brands selling so many different products, is it the sheer range that makes the choice so hard? With a product that you will use for up to 9 hours a night (if you are lucky!), it’s vital that you take the time to make sure you understand what types of mattresses are available and which mattress is ideal given your individual sleep preferences. In a world of seemingly infinite choice, it’s important to remember that your requirements are as individual as you, whether you suffer from insomnia or experience an unusual or disturbed sleep cycle. As experts, we want to share our knowledge and research to remove the guesswork and help you to choose a mattress that will give you a great night’s sleep for years to come. Welcome to our ultimate guide to buying the perfect mattress….
SHOPPING IN STORE VS ONLINE SHOPPING
Before you start, it’s important to decide how you will shop for your new mattress. Both in-store shopping and online shopping have pros and cons, so we’ll help you demystify the process below.
Shopping in a retail store
Many people shop for mattresses in department stores, malls, or branded mattress shops. Although shopping in a traditional brick and mortar retail location is beneficial because you can touch and feel the product, many customers nowadays have become more sophisticated, realizing that there are a number of drawbacks to shopping in store. Before you walk into your first mattress store, please be aware of some of the limitations to exclusively shopping in a store for your next mattress:
- High Prices. The prices will typically be higher than online prices, as the price has to cover overhead such as shop floor rental, marketing costs, and sales commission for the staff
- Lack of Transparency. Lack of specific information about what’s inside each model, different model names between different stores, and confusion about how much of the price is negotiable leaves many customers with more questions than answers when they visit a store. Sales staff will promote items that have higher commission. Be wary of enthusiastic sales staff. They may simply be pushing you toward items that provide them the largest commission check.
Benefits to shopping online
Shopping online for a mattress has become more and more popular in recent years. For many, it’s a way to save money or receive better customer service. For others, it’s a way to make sure they’re getting the exact mattress they want after deep consideration and research. In either case, it’s hard to ignore that the internet is a channel that almost every mattress customer should at least consider in researching, shopping, and purchasing their new mattress.
- Extensive research
In store, if a particular product takes your fancy, you are reliant on the salesperson to fill in your knowledge gaps. Online, however, you are free to do extensive research – such as reading mattress reviews and making comparisons - with no salesperson watching you.
Being able to comparison shop from a smartphone while you are in a retail store is incredibly helpful, as is ordering from a laptop when you’re at your home (for instance, you can measure your bedroom dimensions on the spot!). In addition, most online brands will deliver your mattress in a few days (versus traditional retailers who may make you wait 2 - 4 weeks).
- Free delivery
Many online retailers offer free delivery meaning a money saving for you. In addition, most online brands will deliver your mattress in a few days (versus traditional retailers who may make you wait 2 - 4 weeks).
- Home trial periods
Online retailers are very likely to offer a sleep guarantee or home trial. After a quick search, we found offers of a money-back guarantee for anything from 30 to 100 nights, meaning if you don’t fall in love with your new mattress for any reason you can return it for a refund. Although you can sit and lie down on a mattress in a brick and mortar store, actually sleeping on a mattress in your bedroom is clearly a superior option.
The amount you are able to invest in your new mattress will obviously affect your choice. For such an important and long-lasting household item, we would advise that you budget as much as you can afford to help you find the perfect fit.
Budget (Under HK$4000)
If you find yourself on a very tight budget, be extra careful when making your purchase. Mattresses under HK$4000 tend to be less durable and comfortable that those in the next budget range up.
Good value for money
A great compromise between breaking the bank and a lower-end budget is a middle-range budget. This is often the sweet spot for value and quality for many consumers. In fact, based on our research, you can definitely locate great mattresses within this range. Certain companies offer premium build and very high-quality materials that rival big budget mattresses that are sold for 3 - 4x more. Like with any other purchase, however, make sure you do your research carefully and ask enough questions before handing over any money. Not all mattresses in this price range offer strong value. For instance, we often see all-foam mattresses in this category being marketed as “premium” when they are more accurately categorized as a budget purchase.
Expensive (Over HK$15,000)
If you are spending over HK$15000, then it really should be the mattress dreams are made of. Many mattresses in this range will feature superior quality materials and design but beware…many simply feature a high price tag to cover expensive marketing campaigns targeting the luxury consumer. In many cases, there is no need to spend this much money to get a dreamy night’s sleep. Although you may be able to find an incredible product in this price range, we recommend that you proceed with caution: a high price does not necessarily mean better sleep.
We’ve come a long way since mattresses were stuffed with animal fur, and these days there are three popular materials used to construct a quality mattress – springs/coils, foam, and memory foam.
When it comes to coils it easy to get in a twist, so let’s help you out with the jargon. There are 4 types of mattress coil and they vary in their response range– this is the change in firmness as the spring is compressed.
- Bonnell coils are an adaptation from buggy seat springs and is the oldest and most common spring design in modern mattresses. The hourglass-shaped coils are laced together, which means there is no motion isolation. Nowadays, more advanced coil technology is available on the market.
- Offset coils are a type of Bonnel coil with a hinged and squared wire on top. In terms of properties, it is similar to the more general Bonnel coil, although it has some advantages in that it can feel softer with light pressure and firmer with deeper pressure due to its design.
- Continuous coils are made from a single piece of wire. Although commonly marketed as an expensive type of coil, in reality the manufacturing cost for continuous coils is actually very simple and inexpensive to make the manufacturer does not need to form individual coils. Since coils have less ability to shape themselves to a person’s body profile and, similar to Bonnell coils and offset coils, it’s impossible to feature motion isolation in this design.
- Pocket coils are coils where each coil is separately sheathed in its own cloth pocket. The steel coils are barrel-shaped and thin-guaged and generally have the greatest “response range” of any coil system. Not only are they softer on initial compression and firmer on deeper compression, but they provide greater a greater ability to form around your body profile. Although expensive to manufacture, this coil is popular due to its ability to create motion isolation (the ability to allow movement on one part of the mattress to not be felt on another) – a byproduct of the fact that each individual coil is covered in fabric. Pocket coils are typically found only in premium-grade mattresses.
The type and density of foam layers in your mattress will make a big difference to your sleep experience. A premium high-density foam of different types can be used to increase comfort, support, breathability or responsiveness. However, cheap low-density foam, especially if it makes up more than 50% of your mattress’s construction material, can cause sagging and issues with durability.
Memory foam is a type of foam that is famous for having a slower response rate, which allows the foam the conform (or mold) around a sleeper’s body. Used in a mattress, many consumers appreciate the conforming nature of the foam for pressure relief while some dislike the “sinking” feeling and lack of bounce.
As a note, don’t be confused by the term “gel memory foam”. Although this is marketed as a new type of memory foam that is cooler to the touch, studies have demonstrated that there is no material difference in sleep temperature. In terms of its material properties, gel memory foam and “regular” memory foam are identical.
Although we’ve moved on from the animal fur, there are still some less popular materials in use. In fact, horse hair is still occasionally used (although wool is more likely!). A quality latex material can offer comfort and elasticity, whereas some people use natural materials we have in abundance such as air (used more as a short-term solution such as camping and water (purely for personal preference).
Hybrid Mattress – New hybrid mattresses that combine these materials offer the best of all worlds. Using different layers of materials in specific layers is fantastic for sleepers, because it means you can maximize the benefits you want whilst limiting those properties you don’t want. For instance, a hybrid mattress that combines pocket coils and memory foam can promote the even weight distribution of coils with the pressure relief of memory foam while completely eliminating the “sinking in” feeling of memory foam that many people dislike. Likewise, a hybrid with pocket springs and firmer orthopedic foam will work well for a sleeper who prefers the responsiveness of coils but wants extra lumbar support during the night.
A major influence on your eventual spend will be the size of mattress you purchase, so it is worth considering what you really need. If you sleep alone or have a small bedroom, then you should consider either a single bed or maybe a double. If you sleep with a partner (or pet!) or your bedroom is slightly less modest in size, then a Queen or King size may suit you better in terms of comfort. An often-overlooked element is your, or your partner’s, height. Have space to starfish is no good if your feet are sticking out of the end. Shop around as many manufacturers offer ‘long’ versions of their mattresses. Below is a list of standard mattress sizes in Hong Kong.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS
You’ve made some important decisions so far, but now you need to consider some features to fine-tune your ideal mattress choice.
Some mattresses feature Zoned Support, which offers more or less support in certain “zones”. The premise is to offer more give for heavier parts of the body (shoulders, hips, etc.), and softer give for the lighter parts. Although this feature sounds great, practically it may have a detrimental effect on your comfort. That’s because it is unlikely that any one mattress’s zones match up perfectly to your unique body (or your partners). Moreover, it’s impossible for such zones to provide the right support as you move in bed, or when you rotate your mattress as experts recommend. Zoned support typically comes in as 3-zone, 5-zone, or 7-zone options. The fact that manufacturers cannot agree on whether your body has 3, 5 or 7 zones shows the fallacy of the feature.
If you sleep with someone who is constantly tossing and turning, this feature is a must for you. Normally found in the pocket coil and memory foam mattresses, it means one person’s movements cannot be felt by the other, no matter what stage of sleep either is in – perfect for getting that restful night’s rest.
Coiled mattresses have a pleasant bounce. Without a “sinking in” feeling, these types of mattresses are easy to move on. For certain sleepers, this is important.
Lifespan and durability
Many design choices can affect the lifespan of your mattress. For instance, studies show that all-foam mattresses have a significantly lower average lifespan than mattresses that feature coils. Another feature that increases your mattress’s durability is hand tufting, which secures the top layers together to ensure a uniform feel, guarantee that support doesn't shift, and increase your mattress's lifespan by 50%.
How much support the edge of your mattress provides is also important to certain sleepers. For those who share a bed, the edge support feature will increase the overall surface area of your mattress. For those who sleep near the edge of your mattress, this feature will allow you to do so without feeling like you will slip off. And for those who like to sit on the edge of the bed, this feature is a must.
Temperature regulation and breathability
Studies find that most people need to cool their body temperature down before they can easily fall asleep. The use of high-quality cooling fabric cover can assist in helping you “sleep cool”, as can mattresses that have air channels added to any top foam layer. Ask any sales person about these important features!
A matter of personal preference, although research has shown that a mattress that is too soft or too firm may cause issues with posture that may increase chronic pain for certain people. If you don’t know what firmness you prefer in your mattress, it’s smarter to purchase a firmer mattress. Firmer mattresses (so long as they are not too firm) are better for your sleep posture (and therefore your back). In addition, firmer mattresses are typically more durable, and can always be made softer with comfy bedding or a mattress topper.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS THE PERFECT MATTRESS?
The only truly perfect mattress is one that is perfect for you. It must have the combination of all of the above factors that best suits you.
However, to help you along, if we were to describe the elements we think make up a ‘perfect mattress’ then it would have the following features:
- Look for a hybrid mattress that combines properties you want
- We strongly recommend a mattress that features pocket coils for even weight distribution, motion isolation, and responsiveness
- Edge support for the practicality of getting in and out of bed
- High-quality cooling fabric cover for durability and air flow
- Firmness level of medium firm for back and muscle health
- Avoid all-foam mattresses due to known durability issues
- Accreditation by independent bodies such as OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and CertiPUR-US®
The BackSupport Mattress™ is just one example of a mattress that encompasses all of these features, and more.
Your bargain mattress may not seem like such a good deal if you have to pay a large delivery charge y. Consider trying to negotiate a lower price elsewhere in the total price, see if the company has online vouchers, or even consider arranging to collect if you have access to suitable vehicle. If those options don’t work, certain online brands will offer free delivery.
Home Trial and Returns
Where possible, opt for a mattress that comes with a home trial. Even a slight snooze on a shop display mattress is not the best indicator as to whether your chosen model will be a dream come true or a nightmare. A home trial is the only way to be sure that you can properly evaluate your purchase and make sure it is perfect for you – and the longer, the better; online companies typically offer anything from 30 to 100 days to decide if you have made the right choice.
Once you have purchased the perfect mattress, you want to be sure it will remain perfect for as long as possible. Make sure you are aware of the warranty and what it covers. Most will cover for manufacturing defects and not wear and tear. However, the biggest problem you are likely to face, is sagging. Even moderate sagging can and often does result in less comfort and support, so pay special attention to whether sagging is covered and if so, how it is measured in terms of warranty claims. It could be subjective or a given physical depth.
Although you may not realize it, the mattress industry has many standards and certification levels that recognize a product’s quality and features. When shopping for your perfect mattress, you should look for companies that have passed independent tests and overall quality assurances and have up-to-date certifications from OEKO-TEX 100 and CERTIPUR-US.
NOW YOU CAN FIND THE MATTRESS OF YOUR DREAMS
Be Prepared When You Start Shopping
At the start, we discussed shopping in-store or online. Although there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both, it’s important you are ready to shop wisely, whatever your choice. This comes down to two elements – budget and research. Stick to your budget and stick with your research – don’t take everything the salesperson says at face value.
If You Decide to Shop in Store
For some, the act of shopping is incomplete without visiting a store. If the lure of touching and trying out your potential purchases is too much to stay behind a computer keyboard, then make sure you do the following:
- Don’t just sit or lie down for two minutes -- sleep on it for an extended period in the sleep position that you prefer at home
- Bring your partner, if you’re sharing a bed
- Ask about each layer inside the mattress -- the salesperson should be able to explain everything fully!
- Test things that you can feel like motion isolation, bounciness, and edge support
- Almost all prices in retail stores are negotiable -- ask for a steeper discount than the salesperson initially offers
- Bring your mobile phone with you so you can make your own product comparisons on the spot -- don’t rely solely on what the salesperson says
- Don’t purchase the same day in store! There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if the salesperson knows you’re still shopping around, she may offer a steeper discount. Also, once you know what mattress in the store you like, you should go home and research comparable models and their prices.
We hope that this guide has brought you out of the dark and into the light when it comes to purchasing the mattress of your dreams. Remember, our goal is to help you find the perfect mattress for your individual needs. Armed with this knowledge you’ll now have the upper-hand when it comes to getting a mattress that matches the uniqueness of you…. Happy Shopping!