The most common mistakes when buying a mattress - and how to avoid them

Sleep easy by saving yourself from any costly - and irritating - errors

White bedding on top of mattress
(Image credit: Future PLC)

We spend about a third of our lives in bed, so getting the foundations right are key. Knowing the most common mistakes when buying a mattress will allow you to know what to look for, ask and do when making this purchase.

Finding the best mattress for you isn't as daunting as it may sound. There are a few easy things to be aware of to help you make the perfect decision, so we've spoken to the experts to find out what you need to know.

The common mistakes when buying a mattress

'A mattress is a huge investment in your long-term lifestyle and health both physical and mental, so you want to get it right,' says Musi Chayla, Vice President, Sleep.8 Global.

1. Style over substance

Bedroom with natural wooden wall panelling and contemporary furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

'The most common mistakes we see with mattress shopping are choosing a mattress either because it appeals aesthetically without considering tension, fillings and types,' notes Sarah Massouh, founder, Willow & Hall.

It can be so easy to pick what looks the prettiest when looking around a showroom, but this is absolutely one of those situations where looks shouldn't play a part. Remember, you'll only ever see the mattress when changing your sheets and take off your mattress protector so its appearance is really isn't important. 

2. Choosing artificial fillings

Neutral bedroom with wall panelling

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Fillings have a lot to answer for in a mattress since they are the bulk of the piece. It's tempting to go artificial as they're often cheaper, but this should be avoided where possible. Instead, when it's time to change your mattress, look to natural options.

'A mistake often made is to buy a mattress that is made of synthetic materials,' says Mark Tremlett, Founder, Naturalmat. 'Because they get hot and soak up perspiration, synthetic mattresses not only increase the chances of a disturbed night’s sleep, but they also don’t last as long, contributing to the 5 million dumped in UK landfills each year.' So no matter how you clean a mattress, it won't have a long lifetime ahead of it

'We believe that a natural, rather than foam filled mattress, is an essential ingredient for a good night’s sleep, and we firmly feel that mattresses should include only natural fillings such as silk, wool, hemp, cashmere and mohair,' agrees Adam Black, Co-Founder, Button & Sprung

'A natural material, such as wool, is a heat regulator and ensures you feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter,' continues Adam. 'Not only does this lead to better temperature regulation and moisture control at night, it also means you sleep on a chemical free, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly bed than the foam based alternatives.'

3. Not testing the mattress properly

Green bedroom with black headboard and ladder shelving and pastel trunk storage

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'One of the biggest mistakes when buying a mattress is not using a pillow when testing mattress,' says Musi from Sleep.8. 'Before you approach mattress testing, spend a while finding the ideal pillow for your needs, whether you are a side, front or back sleeper and your preferred firmness. Use this when testing your mattress to get the full experience of how you will sleep night after night.'

Even if you've spotted the best mattress deal you could imagine, make sure to really test it properly, or you could very quickly be experiencing buyer's remorse/

'People often rush or are embarrassed to get comfortable when mattress testing. Take your time, get cosy - come to the shop prepared to get comfortable and spend some time on your mattress. Test your mattress without a jacket on, with your full body and for at least 5 minutes or more.'

4. Not considering your sleeping position

Grey bedroom with upholstered headboard and layered throws

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What mattress you go for depends heavily on how you will be sleeping on it. 'One of the mistakes when buying a mattress is  selecting one which doesn't provide the right kind of support for the customers preferred sleeping position,' says Sarah from Willow & Hall. 

'As a simple overview we recommend a standard tension for side sleepers to allow shoulders and hips to sink comfortably into the mattress, a firm tension for back sleepers to support the lower back and a very firm tension for front sleepers to provide support for the neck muscles. So, if you are a front or back sleeper, don't be tempted to choose a soft, sumptuous looking mattress as this will not provide the support you need in the long term.'

5. Not thinking about mattress toppers

White bedding on top of mattress

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Sometimes it's not just about mistakes when buying a mattress, but how to improve the one you already have. Picking up one of the best mattress toppers can be a game changer for your comfort. 

'If you’re on a tight budget, rather than going for the cheapest synthetic option, think about investing in a mattress topper which is a fairly quick and simple way to improve your sleep experience if you aren’t able to invest in a new mattress,' suggests Mark from Naturalmat.

'A mattress topper can help to create greater comfort all year round, and as with mattresses that are made from natural fibres, consider the same when choosing a mattress topper so you are not compromising on your sleep health or the environment.'

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.