Buying a mattress online can feel like a huge gamble. There are so many variables, that it can feel like the decks are stacked against you. You bravely put yourself out there, research, and choose an option. Hopefully, you and your new mattress will have a long and fruitful relationship, with all the sleep you need.
However, what if you set it up and start sleeping together, but the spark just isn't there; the newness wears off and you are stuck with a dud? With as much as mattresses cost, it can be hard to throw in the towel.
This is where an in-home mattress trial comes in handy.
Most online mattress retailers (and some brick and mortar stores) offer a sleep trial. After you buy a mattress, and have it delivered, you have a predetermined amount of time to exercise your trial period: this is usually 90 to 120 days. During that period, according to the specific retailer policy, you are free to return or exchange the mattress for a different model.
Read more here about mattress sleep trials.
So, how do you know whether your mattress is a keeper? We reached out to mattress experts to help us understand what to pay attention to during a mattress honeymoon. Here's what they said:
"Most mattresses purchased online are compressed, rolled and then put in a box to be shipped via FedEx or UPS," advises Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and cofounder of Tuck. "While it is quite the experience to unbox a mattress after delivery to see it go back to its original shape, it will take some time to get back to the feel it was built to have. It could take upwards of 48 hours for the bed to recover to its full height. If it is a week later, and you still don’t feel like the bed has recovered properly, this is an issue and should be addressed with customer service."
So, what depth and height is your mattress supposed to reach? Double-check the online specs with your unboxed mattress. It should be within an inch of the fully quoted size.
"The sleep trial is the time when you should really figure out if the mattress is working for you," says Joe Auer from Mattress Clarity. "First off, many mattresses do take a bit of time to break-in. It may take at least a month to get used to your sleeping surface, so don't freak out if the mattress doesn't feel perfect from day one. However, after you've slept on the mattress for at least a month, think about the following:
How are you sleeping? This one seems like a no-brainer, but it is still important. Are you tossing and turning at night or do you wake up feeling like you haven't moved at all? How rested do you feel?"
"You'll want to take note of any changes to your sleep routine," advises Logan Block, Director of Content at Sleepopolis. "Are you falling asleep faster? Do you sleep through the night? Do you wake up feeling well-rested? If yes, the bed may be a keeper. However, if you feel as though your slumber isn't actively improving (or is, in fact, getting worse), it may not be the mattress for you."
"You'll also want to take stock of any new pains," says Block, "specifically in the lower back, shoulders, and hips. These are some of the most sensitive spots along the body and will react swiftly to uncomfortable pressure points."
Dr. Rick Swartzburg, D.C., the creator of the Snuggle-Pedic and Air-Pedic mattresses advises that during a sleep trial, "the customer should be looking at their actual sleeping alignment, as well as how their back, shoulders, and hips feel in the morning." Swartzburg's Mattress Checker App can help check their spinal alignment, so you can compare from your old mattress to the new one.
"Assess the feel of the mattress against claims made by the brand," suggests Block. "If you bought a mattress because the company said it was bouncy, supportive, and firm, that's exactly how it should feel when it's set up in your bedroom. If that's not the vibe you're getting, feel free to send it back."
"Beyond the recovery and the feel, the mattress should be inspected to ensure there are no rips or tears in the cover," advises Fish. "Some mattresses ordered online could weigh upwards of nearly 150 lbs, and it is possible that some stitching may have been damaged in the boxing process."
Auer agrees that how a mattress looks is important. "This is something you should consider from day one. Does the mattress look put together?" In addition to loose stitching, he suggests looking for any holes or seams where mattress filling is exposed.
If you do see any issues, take a picture to document, even if it is a minor stitching error.
"If you notice any wear and tear within the first two weeks (dramatic sagging in the middle of the bed, diminished edge support, excessive squeaking or creaking), the mattress likely isn't a quality product," advises Block. If your mattress is sagging, Auer says, this is a RED FLAG. "It often takes years for mattresses to begin to sag, but if it's happening in the first year, that is a serious problem. If you spot any indentations or large body impressions, that is a bad sign."
Edge support is another thing to take inventory of. Block asks "Does the structure hold up at the sides as well as it does in the middle?"
If there is sagging or diminished edge support within your sleep trial, you should initiate a return.
Block suggests that "perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is this: Would you recommend the mattress to a friend? If the answer is no, it's likely not the one for you."
And that's okay, as long as you are still within your trial period.
How long should you try it out before returning? When do you give up? Expert opinions vary:
Why wouldn't you know immediately? Why wait to make your decision? Bill Fish from Tuck has a helpful explanation:
"The first item you should understand is that you should not determine if the mattress is for you after night one. We like to equate it to a new pair of running shoes. They might be stiff for a new days, but within a couple of weeks, they will be broken in and feeling great. The same can be said for a mattress. If you have been sleeping on a sub-standard mattress for years, your body may be compensating for the lack of support received. When you are sleeping on a new mattress for the first night, your body won’t be accustomed to that new found support and you may wake up a bit sore. This is completely normal, and it is recommended that you sleep on a mattress for roughly 30 nights and make your judgment at that time."
According to Joy, "Sleep is possibly the most important factor when it comes to good health. Poor sleep increases the risk that you’ll experience an accident, be in a bad mood, experience an impaired immune system, or have trouble remembering things. When you don’t sleep well, your self-control also decreases which means you’re less likely to exercise and eat well."
Once the honeymoon is over and you have broken in the bed, ask yourself these eight questions. You should know whether it's a match made in heaven or not, and decide whether your purchase was worth it.