How To Choose A Bed


What’s the most important piece of furniture you’ll ever buy? IMHO, your bed heads the list. That’s where you spend approximately one-third of your time ... and the quality of your night’s sleep affects all your waking hours. That’s why it’s essential to purchase a bed that’s both comfortable and supportive. Here’s how to choose a bed.

What to Look for When Buying a Bed

  1. Test the mattress. Whenever possible, go to the store and lie down on any bed you are considering. See whether it’s a good fit, in terms of size and comfort. Compare different materials and firmness levels. Be sure to try out the mattress not just in your preferred sleep position, but also on both sides and your back (most folks shift around a fair bit as they sleep.).

  2. Verify the return policy. One thing you don’t want is to find that the mattress which felt so blissfully right after 15 minutes in the shop leaves you achy and exhausted after a full night at home. Many stores will accept returns for as long as 100 days following your purchase of a new bed.

  3. Check the warranty. Look at the warranty period and all the terms and conditions attached – such as what types of potential problems are covered and whether coverage is prorated, so that the dollar value you receive will decrease according to how long you've owned the bed. Your warranty may also be voided if you don’t buy a specified type of foundation.

  4. Consider the space you have available. A king size bed seems like the ultimate in comfort, but will it dwarf your condo’s bedroom? Can you get it up the stairs of your house or around that tricky corner? Unless you’re buying an entire bedroom suite, consider, too, how the new bed will complement your existing furniture.

What Type of Mattress Is Best for Me?

Innerspring mattresses are the most commonly sold variety in the US. Usually the longest-lasting, these provide support via a network of steel coils, usually softened with some form of cushioning, infused gel, or foam. (That’s what terms like “pillow top” or “plush” refer to.) Select the correct firmness on a scale of 1-10. Pair your innerspring mattress with a traditional box spring or a bed frame.

Foam mattresses (“Tempur-Pedic” or “memory foam”) tend to be popular among those with back problems or arthritis pains. Layers of polyurethane and/or latex mold to gently cradle sore backs and joints. (Some users find it more difficult to change position, though.) Purchase a foundation with a level surface, either solid or made up of covered slats, to go with your new foam mattress.

Adjustable air mattresses may bring to mind the old camping standby. However, today’s version is much more sophisticated, with dual firmness zones (to keep both you and your partner cozy), an attached electric pump, and extra padding. Use it atop a purpose-built air mattress base (which can be inserted into your existing bed frame).

Standard Bed Sizes

Good to know: bed sizes vary not only in width, but also in length. If you’re very tall or are replacing only the mattress of your current bed, keep this in mind.

Twin (single) mattress dimensions: 38 x 75 inches

Twin extra-long: 38 x 80 inches

Double (full) mattress: 54 x 75 inches

Queen mattress: 60 x 80 inches

King mattress dimensions: 76 x 80 inches

California king: 72 x 84 inches

More Tips on How to Choose a Bed

  • Purchase a hypoallergenic mattress for someone who suffers from allergies or other breathing difficulties.

  • Do not use a foam mattress directly on the floor for long periods (a few days should be fine). Without ventilation, it may develop mold.

  • Order a “bed in a box” online for convenience, but first do your homework and thoroughly research various brands. A generous return policy is uber important here.

  • Avoid foam or pillow top styles if you’re the old-fashioned sort and want to be able to flip your mattress for more even wear.

  • Add a handsome headboard as the finishing touch. Making one yourself is an easy and fun DIY project. For a more polished look, hire a professional carpenter to create your personal custom headboard.

Laura Firszt writes for

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