How to Test out Your Mattress

There are a lot of reasons to get your mattress online.

There’s no high-pressure sales pitch, there’s no haggling, you have more options, and there’s no need to try to figure whether or not you find you mattress comfortable lying down in the middle of some crowded department store.

Bed-in-a-box companies make buying a mattress easier in just about every way, but here’s the thing: without a salesman to walk you through it, you’re going to need a bit more mattress savvy than you might have already.

You need to know what you’re doing around mattresses.

You need to be able to know if the mattress you’ve decided on is actually a good fit for you, and you need to be informed enough to be confident when it comes time to make your final decision.

Testing out a product is a crucial step in any purchase process.

Read on to find out the best ways to test out any new mattress.

Do Your Homework Before Buying a Mattress

a guy typing on his laptopAlright, now before you actually go out and pick this mattress you’re going to test, you’ll first want to do some research.

Getting a mattress is a big investment, and you don’t want to just go with the first company you hear of.

Shop around.

Have a look at prices, keep in mind any medical conditions you might have, and see if you can find reviews.

There’s a really good system for this you can check out right here on Mattress Guides.

We’ve made this part of the process really simple for you.

If you click on our “Mattress Reviews” section at the top of this page, you’ll be able to see a comprehensive listing of almost every mattress available in the United States today.

(If you know of one we don’t have info on, just let us know and we’ll get that to you as soon as we can.)

You can see all the prices, right next to our unbiased ratings based on customer reviews.

Click on that “Read our Review” link over to the right, and you’ll find all the factors we took into account while coming up with our final star rating, as well as a comprehensive review of pretty much anything you could want to know about this particular mattress.

It couldn’t be any easier!

Understand Mattress Return Policies

Now, once you’ve done your research and decided on what you think will be the best mattress for you, be sure you understand your particular company’s return policy. 

Different mattress companies handle this differently, but it’s always important to know what you’re getting into—especially when you’re dealing with something as important as a mattress.

After all, any time you test something out, that’s because you know there’s a certain chance it’s not going to work out.

Know How Long You Have to Decide on a Mattress

No matter how reputable a mattress company you’re buying from, every company is going to have some limit on the amount of time you have to decide whether or not you want to keep their product.

Thankfully, a lot of “bed-in-a-box” companies actually have pretty generous return policies—certainly better than what you’ll find in most brick-and-mortar stores.

Some stores out there don’t even have return policies, and those that do sometimes have very short windows for product returns.

According to, half of all mattress retailers have maximum return policies of less than 90 days.

Most online companies can do better than that.

You’ll typically get somewhere between a 100- and 200-night trial period, during which you’ll be able to get a full refund if you decide against your mattress.

This should give you plenty of time to figure out whether or not you want to keep it.

What Happens if I Decide to Return a Mattress?

Don’t worry—no mattress company is going to try and make you keep a mattress you don’t want.

Pretty much all reputable businesses have some kind of return policy, and you’ll typically get a full refund on any unwanted mattress.

Most companies will arrange for a pickup at your house at a convenient time, which is usually either free or occasionally at a reasonable price.

They’ll send a couple people over and haul your mattress off to a better home—often at a local charity or, if that’s not possible, a recycling plant.

At the worst, it’ll end up in a landfill.

No matter what, though, it’s not going to be much of a hassle on your end.

The Test Drive

OK, so you’ve done the research, you know your company’s policies, and you’ve gotten your product.

Now it’s finally time to try the thing out!

So… how are you going to go about doing that?

Don’t worry—it’s not that hard.

Mostly, it just involves paying attention and being willing to admit if something feels uncomfortable.

Know your way around the mattress “test-drive” with these easy steps.

Lie Down on Your Mattress to Test It

a girl lying on her back on a mattressA good first step to understanding any mattress is to lie down on it the way you normally sleep and pay attention to how it feels.

Try out your typical sleep positions, and wiggle around a bit to get a feel for the mattress responds to your body.

Do this with your partner if you have one, and take your time.

Experts recommend budgeting 15 to 20 minutes for this process.

Note any discomfort you’re having, and always remember to be honest with yourself.

If you can tell right away that something’s wrong, contact the company.

If not, or if you’re not sure, sleep on it for a few nights while paying attention to your body and comfort level.

Is the Mattress Too Firm?

Sometimes, you’ll be able to know right away if a mattress is too firm for you—it’s simply impossible to get comfortable!

Other times, though, it might not be so cut-and-dry.

It’s common for a too-firm mattress to cause pain in certain people, but the type of pain and its location vary a good bit based on the way you sleep.

Here are a couple common symptoms of a mattress being too firm, based on your particular sleep position.

Side sleepers:

  • You wake up with pain in your hip, shoulder, and/or lower back
  • Too-firm mattresses don’t allow your body to sink in the way you need them to, placing too much pressure on the parts of your body that jut out
  • Your body isn’t made for this, so it hurts

Back sleepers:

  • You wake up with pain in your lower back and neck
  • Excessively firm mattresses force your body into an unnatural curvature, making it impossible for you spine to align properly
  • This creates pressure points and causes soreness

 Stomach sleepers:

  • You wake up with pain in your lower back and neck
  • As with back sleepers, too-firm mattresses will force stomach sleepers’ bodies into unnatural positions, making it impossible for their spines to properly align
  • This creates pressure points and causes soreness

The pain caused by an excessively firm mattress will usually fade within 15 to 30 minutes of waking up and stretching.

Is the Mattress Too Soft?

A too-soft mattress is just as bad as a too-firm one.

This one might be a little strange to think about, since it sleeping on a soft mattress could sound pretty great.

But just like super firm mattresses, super soft mattresses can disrupt the curvature of your spine and lead to pain.

If you lie flat on your back on a mattress and can feel your back sinking out of its natural S-shaped curve and into more of a straight line or U shape, that mattress is too soft for you.

Don’t feel bad about it—all of our bodies are made differently, and we all have different needs.

It’s just important to understand what your needs are.

Is the Mattress the Right Size?

While there are a couple general ways to judge the size of mattress you’ll need in advance (read more in our articles here and here), sometimes you really don’t know what you want until you physically try it out.

Try lying in the center of the bed if you sleep alone, or with your partner if not. Be sure there’s enough space for you to lie in whatever way is most comfortable for you.

You shouldn’t have to be going into any weird contortions on account of your mattress.

Your mattress is built for you, not the other way round.

Are You in Pain?

An elderly lady with back painAlthough this one should really seem like a no-brainer, it might not be that obvious if you’ve been sleeping on a bad mattress for a long time.

So, let’s break this down.

You shouldn’t be feeling any back, neck, or shoulder pain on waking up in the morning.

You shouldn’t be waking up in the middle of the night in pain.

And if you have any medical conditions like arthritis, your mattress should not be making your symptoms worse.

Realize that there are mattresses specifically made for people with all kinds of conditions, and you should not settle for anything that leaves you in pain.

Talk it over with your medical professional, but if you’ve purchased a new mattress and find that you’re still experiencing discomfort while falling asleep or when you wake up in the morning, there may be an even better mattress out there waiting for you.

Conclusion About Testing Out Your Mattress

So, there you have it!

Testing a mattress isn’t complicated—you just need to know what you’re doing.

Just remember to pay attention to your body, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you can tell something is wrong.

It might feel wasteful or overdramatic to call up a company and have them take back and entire mattress, but remember that these businesses are here to accommodate to your needs.

Your comfort should be your number one priority here.

Be confident in what your body is telling you, and don’t be afraid to replace your mattress if you know that’s what needs to be done.