Sleep Easy: Discover How to Buy the Best Mattress

Buying a mattress can be difficult, but GMA gives you tips on how to rest easy.

ByABC News via via logo

July 30, 2007 — -- Sometimes, resting can be more difficult than it sounds, especially when you're purchasing that perfect mattress. In fact, an estimated 70 million Americans complain of sleeplessness, and the country spends almost $7 billion a year on mattresses.

Choosing the perfect bed can seem difficult, so "Good Morning America" consulted Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping to find out some steps you can take to sleep easier. A good night's sleep may be just a click away. Check out our mattress buying tips below.

We're all possible candidates for a new mattress. If you wake up with aches, that could be a clue. Another clue is if you find you always sleep better at hotels than at home.

The rule of thumb is that mattresses wear out every 10 years. At that point, you've slept on them for about 29,000 hours. But, if you're older than 40, some experts suggest getting a new mattress every five years to seven years because bodies become more susceptible to pressure as we age.

Always shop for your mattress in person. Don't buy a mattress online or by phone unless you have tested out the exact same one in a store.

Consumer Reports recommends lying down for a full 15 minutes in your favorite sleeping position. Testers there found that the mattress they liked after 15 minutes was often the same one they liked after a month.

But just in case you're wrong, choose a store with a generous return policy. For example, Sears has a 30-day return on mattresses and Costco allows unlimited returns. Finally, choose a store that's having a big sale. You can get as much as 50 percent off.

It's all about personal preference. There are more choices and prices than ever. Two benchmarks to look for include getting a mattress with at least 390 coils, and one that costs at least $800 for a queen size. Consumer Reports found mattresses below those two benchmarks can be pretty flimsy.

Many mattresses today come with pillow tops, and you should think about whether you really want one. Sometimes, the padding in the pillow top sags or forms deep craters, and then you need a new mattress, even though the rest of the mattress is in great shape.

Just knowing you can negotiate is a start. When you've made your choice, try countering the first price the salesperson throws out and see if you can get 10 percent to 20 percent off. At least, ask for free delivery and pickup of your old mattress. And insist on a "no substitutions" clause in your sales agreement — so you get exactly the mattress you wanted.

Mattress warranties can be very hard to exercise. For example, if your mattress is sagging, the mattress company sends an inspector out to measure it, and only awards you a new mattress if yours sags more than an inch and a half, which is the industry standard.

Plus, the company can void your warranty if you take the tag off the mattress or if it's stained. So, leave the goofy tag on, and have your mattress cleaned if you're going to try to exercise the warranty.

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