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A Decision-Making Guide for Buying the Right Mattress

man laying on mattress
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
Jessica Schramm for Parachute
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The pursuit of quality sleep is a worthwhile one. While a number of factors are at play, your mattress is arguably the most crucial component of restful slumber. Needless to say, you won't regret doing your research before you buy.

If you're wondering how to choose a mattress based on your sleeping style, bedroom size or personal preferences, you're in good hands. This mattress buying guide will walk you through when to replace, where to shop, what size to get and the most important considerations when shopping around. Let's get started.

When to Replace a Mattress

Most sleep experts recommend switching out your mattress every seven to ten years, though it really depends on the material, level of use and overall quality.

It might be time to replace your mattress if:

  • It feels lumpy or sags

  • It's significantly stained, discolored or has an odor

  • The springs are creaking or otherwise noisy

  • Your indoor allergies are heightened at night or in the morning

  • You have breathable bedding but still sweat at night

  • You often wake up with a stiff neck or sore muscles

  • You struggle to get comfortable at night

  • You sleep better in hotels or on other beds away from home

Even if your mattress appears to be in good shape, you're wise to switch it out if it's ten or more years old. Getting rid of a used mattress can be tricky, but luckily, many companies (Parachute included) will take your old model away when they deliver your new mattress.

Mattress pads and protectors can help extend your bed’s lifespan to an extent, and mattress toppers can provide cushioning and make your nights more comfortable. Even so, there comes a time when every mattress will need to be replaced.

Check out our Guide to Mattress and Bedding Protectors for more insight into this topic.

Buying a Mattress Online vs. In-Person

Before getting into the ins and outs of how to choose a mattress, let's discuss the best way to buy a mattress. Should you order a bed online or buy in-person?

Mattresses are heavy and bulky. Without a pickup truck and a helping hand, they can be tough to transport from the store to your home. However, many stores will let you test a mattress before having it delivered. So if you're someone who needs to see and feel the materials in person before making a decision, the in-store route might be the way to go.

With that said, buying mattresses online is becoming more common. You can usually get great information from product descriptions and buyer reviews to narrow down your choices. Plus, it's a lot easier to browse various options, research materials and compare prices online. If you do order online, it's best to buy a mattress with a money-back trial period, just in case you don't end up liking it.

Parachute offers the best of both worlds with mattress shopping. You can test our Eco Mattress at our brick-and-mortar stores, then order your mattress online and have it shipped to your home.

How to Choose a Mattress Size

Before you start looking around, you should think about what size mattress you need, since size will help determine price and availability. Of course, the most important consideration is whether it fits in your bedroom. Make sure to measure not only your room, but the area where you'll put your bed.

It's OK if the bed takes up a decent amount of square footage. However, make sure you have plenty of room to walk around it, as well as space for other furniture items, like a dresser and nightstands. It’s smart to choose a larger bed if you have the space, because bigger often equates to more comfortable shut-eye, especially if you sleep with a partner.

What Size Mattress Should I Buy?

The mattress size guide below will help you narrow down the options in your search for the perfect bed.

breakdown of mattress dimensions

Twin Mattress Dimensions 

Twin mattresses measure 38 x 75 inches. They're most often used by kids or teens, though they can also work in guest rooms with limited square footage.

Twin XL Mattress Dimensions

Measuring 38 x 80 inches, extra-long twin mattresses are the same width as regular twins, and a few inches longer. They're usually used in college dorms.

Full Mattress Dimensions

Right in between twins and queens, full mattresses are 53 x 75 inches. This size is great for kid and teen bedrooms, college dorms, guest rooms and small apartments.

Did you know full mattresses are the same as double beds? Read all about it.

Queen Mattress Dimensions

Queen mattresses measure 60 x 80 inches, so they're a bit longer and wider than fulls. This option is most popular among adults, including couples and solo sleepers.

Stuck deciding between a queen bed and a double (full) bed? Read our in-depth comparison of the two.

King Mattress Dimensions

A king mattress is 76 x 80 inches, the same length as a queen but substantially wider. Many couples swear by king beds, and they’re a good choice if you have the available space.

California King Mattress Dimensions

Measuring 72 x 84 inches, California king mattresses are actually narrower than regular kings and a few inches longer. This size is ideal for tall people, though it also works well for those who want a large bed but have an oblong-shaped room.

What to Consider When Buying a Mattress

Now that you're up to speed on sizes, it's time to dive into how to choose a mattress. Find critical considerations, a breakdown of what to look for and helpful mattress buying tips below.

How Much Should A Mattress Cost?

When you use something every day — whether it's eyeglasses, running shoes, or a computer — it's generally worth investing in a high-quality design. With that said, mattresses come at a range of price points, and while you can find some comfortable, budget-friendly options, buying an inexpensive one could mean compromising on quality.

This doesn't mean you need to spend an exorbitant amount. The Eco Mattress from Parachute falls in the middle in terms of price, and you can rest assured it's incredibly comfy and well-made.

How Firm Should My Mattress Be?

Mattresses come in varying levels of firmness. The choice is mostly a matter of preference, but a majority of folks sleep best on a medium-firm mattress. The Eco Mattress is roughly an eight out of ten on the firmness scale, offering sufficient back support and spinal alignment while still providing pressure relief.

For more guidance on firmness and what went into Parachute's mattress design, check out our guide, The Eco Mattress: Everything You Need to Know.

Coils vs. Foam Mattress: What’s the Difference? 

When choosing a mattress, consider its internal layers, which usually consist of coils or some type of foam. Unlike traditional innerspring models, modern mattress coils are pocketed, meaning each is encased in its own fabric pocket. This pocketing helps eliminate any creaky noise while minimizing motion transfer.

For ultimate comfort, alignment and pressure-point relief, The Eco Mattress has soft coils under the head and shoulder area, firmer coils in the middle to support the back and hips, and more soft coils in the leg portion.

Foam mattresses, on the other hand, often lack support. They can be up to par out-of-the-box but tend to deteriorate quicker than their pocketed-coil counterparts.

Mattress Temperature Control

Temperature regulation is another important consideration when choosing a mattress. Generally speaking, foam and latex mattresses trap heat because the dense materials make it difficult for air to pass through. Conversely, a pocketed coil structure offers more breathability, making it a go-to for those who sleep hot.

Your bedding fabric plays a big role in regulating your body temperature at night too. Read our Guide to Bed Sheets for more information.

Do You Need a Box Spring? 

When figuring out how to choose a mattress, you should also think about whether you'll need a box spring. Since they're designed to provide sufficient support and absorb impact, many modern mattresses can be placed directly on a bed frame.

If you want a little more height, you can always add a box spring. However, with The Eco Mattress, box springs aren’t necessary.

What Mattress Materials are Eco-Friendly? 

Mattresses can be hard to get rid of — and not just because they need to be carried away in a truck. There are state-by-state disposal regulations, and you typically can't donate a visibly worn-down mattress. Unfortunately, this means they end up in landfills more often than not.

That's why you might want to look for an option made from sustainable materials. For instance, the Eco Mattress consists of organic cotton and wool certified by the Wool Integrity Program. Each component is not only environmentally friendly but also recyclable.

Mattress Delivery: How to Get Your Mattress? 

Delivery isn't the most important consideration, but it shouldn't be overlooked. Since mattresses are big and heavy, they can be expensive to ship, and some brands will charge you for it. Bed-in-a-box companies will usually get the mattress to your doorstep, at which point you'll be responsible for getting it into your bedroom and unpacking it.

Parachute gives you the option to have the Eco Mattress delivered to your door for free, in which case two people are recommended for lifting and unboxing. You can also opt for white-glove service, meaning they'll bring it up any stairs, into your bedroom, and remove all the packaging. Additionally, Parachute will pick up your old mattress upon delivery of your new one at no extra cost.

Concerned about health issues associated with Bed-in-a-box companies? Read our article Mattress in a Box Health Issues, to address your concerns.

Is There a Return Policy?

If you're not sure how to choose a mattress, and you’re worried about picking the wrong one, make sure to review the mattress return policy. Policies vary among companies, but some brands will give you a full or partial refund if you return it within the first few months.

Is There a Trial Period?

On a similar note, many mattress companies offer a trial period with a money-back guarantee. This means that if you're not satisfied with the product upon trying it, they'll take it back and give you a refund as long as it's within the specified window.

Parachute offers a generous 100-night trial. There's a good chance you'll fall in love right away, but if not, they'll pick it up for free and refund your full payment.

Is There a Warranty?

Be sure to give the warranty a once-over too. Parachute offers a ten-year warranty on its mattress to cover manufacturing defects or issues that cause the materials to tear, crack or become otherwise unusable.

How to Choose a Mattress Based on How You Sleep

Some people know they like a particular firmness level or material. But if you need more guidance, your preferred sleeping position can offer clues on how to pick a mattress.

The Best Type of Mattress for Side-Sleepers

If you doze on your side, you'll want something that provides pressure relief while supporting the weight of your body. A pocketed-coil mattress is often ideal, especially when it's designed with softer and firmer zones at different pressure points.

The Best Type of Mattress for Stomach-Sleepers

Foam and latex mattresses are often uncomfortable for stomach-sleepers, as the dense materials can be a bit stifling. A slightly firmer design with internal coils will offer better support and breathability.

The Best Type of Mattress for Back-Sleepers

If you catch your Zs on your back, spine alignment is essential. Medium-firm mattresses are usually the best bet for back-sleepers because they're supportive but not so stiff that they cause an adverse effect.

What Mattress Is Best for Me If I Sleep Hot?

If you sleep hot or get night sweats, a breathable mattress is vital. Since memory foam and latex can trap heat, internal coils are a better choice. As for the outer materials and cushioning, natural textiles like cotton and wool will provide optimal airflow and help cool you down.

Where to Buy the Best Mattress

At this point, you should have a decent idea of how to choose a mattress. Though everyone has unique needs, sleeping styles and preferences, Parachute checks all the boxes. With pocketed coils and ergonomic zones to support alignment in any sleeping position, the Eco Mattress is a contemporary redesign of the traditional innerspring model.

Made of tempered steel, organic cotton and pure New Zealand wool, it's durable, breathable, eco-friendly and 100% recyclable. But you don't have to take it from us — the reviews speak for themselves. Order yours today or stop by a Parachute store to test it out.