Deciding what mattress you need shouldn’t be a challenging experience.

We have to sleep. We love to sleep. It’s good for all of us! And since we spend a great deal of time doing it, you’ve probably given some thought to your mattress. It’s too bumpy! It’s pretty hard! But maybe, if you’re fortunate, it’s just right! But there comes a time when you need to restore your old mattress and get a new one. What to do then? Here are six questions to think about before you buy a new mattress.

  1. What’s in a mattress?

These days most mattresses are both made of innerspring coils, memory foam or some combination of the two. Innerspring mattresses also contain layers of polyurethane foam over the coils to increase comfort. Memory foam, a popular mattress choice today, was firstly developed by NASA for more convenient space travel for astronauts. Lately, gel memory foam has also hit the market and has become a favorite choice because the foam has the same viscoelastic properties of normal memory foam but is more breathable and allows you to stay cooler throughout sleep.


  1. When’s the best time to purchase one?

The best time to purchase a mattress is a holiday, especially around Presidents’ Day (which falls on Feb. 15 this year), Memorial Day and Labor Day when mattress markets typically run annual sales. Purchasing around these times will guarantee you get a discount, whether that be free delivery or an extra 10-15 percent off.


  1. Where should I purchase one?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so purchasing a mattress is an outstanding purchase. There are so many various “flavors” — one company’s definition of “firm” will be another company’s “soft” — so you’ll probably want to try it out for yourself before buying. Most stores offer a three-month return policy, during which they will pick up your mattress and send you a new one free of charge within the first 90 days after purchase.

  1. What about bedbugs and dust mites?

Dust mites are omnipresent in your house, as they feast on dead skin cells, of which we shed about a third of an ounce a week. As little as 100,000 or as many as 10 million dust mites might be lurking in your mattress. And here’s the point: they’re not the problem, but their feces is. They’re a part of life, but there are actions you can take to reduce the number of your sheets in hot water and vacuuming your mattress. You can also attempt encasing your mattress and pillows in hypoallergenic dust mite covers.


  1. How about chemicals?

Most mattresses made over 10 years ago contain a chemical in them called Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), which acts as a flame-retardant and was done by mattress companies to meet fire-retardant standards in mattresses. The problem? PBDE is great at reducing flammability, but it’s also great at hormone disruption, decreasing fertility and influencing brain development. It’s been banned in the European Union and is not used in the United States anymore, although it’s unclear what is being used in its stead. But the problems don’t end there. Believe it or not, mattresses release dozens of chemicals that are probably harmful, though it’s hard to prove or pin down specific effects. That’s why more and more people are searching for organic, non-chemical options. Speaking of …


  1. Are there green alternatives?

If you want to reduce your exposure to the chemicals contained in traditional mattresses, you can opt for a cotton or wool organic mattress, or even normal latex mattresses, which are made from rubber trees and are biodegradable. You might shell out more for these mattresses, but it also might help you rest easy — literally.


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