How to Test a Mattress at Home or in the Store

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On April 11th, 2024
How to Test a Mattress at Home or in the Store

Key Takeaways

  • Duration of Testing: Spending at least 15 minutes lying on a mattress is crucial for a better understanding of its comfort level. Additionally, sleep trials offered by some companies can provide a better idea of your overall comfort, helping you ensure that the mattress is the right fit for your needs.
  • Importance of Support and Spinal Alignment: Checking for support and spinal alignment by lying on the mattress in different positions is vital. Proper support is essential for a comfortable sleep, while inadequate support can lead to various issues like muscle aches, back pain, and disrupted sleep.
  • Consideration of Sleeping Position and Body Type: Understanding how different mattresses cater to various sleeping positions is essential. Different sleep positions require different levels of support and cushioning, and it’s crucial to find a mattress that accommodates your body’s unique needs and provides the right balance of support and comfort for your preferred sleep position.

Are you looking for the perfect mattress? It can make a huge difference in how well you sleep and how you feel overall. But do you know the secrets to finding the one?

Whether you’re shopping mattress online or trying the mattress in-store, mattress testing is a must. A subpar mattress can be the line between pleasant dreams and a night of restlessness.

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Evaluating how a mattress feels when you sit or lie down is a game-changer. You must also get the lowdown on the materials and components, either from a friendly salesperson or customer service representative or by reviewing the mattress’ specs.

This article will guide you through the crucial details before you embark on your mattress testing journey, providing all the necessary information. This way, you can secure the perfect mattress for a restful night’s sleep, filled with dreams, for years to come.

Where Can I Test a Mattress?

When looking to test out mattresses before making a purchase, you have several options for trying them in person. Here are some of the best places to go to physically evaluate different mattress models.

Mattress Showrooms

Dedicated mattress showrooms allow you to test many different brands and models side-by-side. Reputable showrooms will have a wide selection of mattress types and firmness levels. Sales associates can provide guidance as you try out beds.

Mattress Retail Stores

Major mattress retailers like Mattress Firm also offer a range of models to test in-store. Trying mattresses at a retailer allows you to make comparisons between the different brands they carry.

Department Stores

Many department stores such as Macy’s have mattress sections where you can test out the mattress brands they sell. While selection may be more limited, it’s another way to experience mattresses first-hand.

Furniture Stores

If you’re purchasing a bed frame or other bedroom furniture, furniture stores can be helpful for testing mattresses too. Many styles may be on display, allowing you to judge comfort and support.


When traveling, pay attention to how you sleep on hotel beds. Note the brand and firmness you find most comfortable. Use hotels as an opportunity to experience different mattress feels.

Friends or Family

Try out the mattresses owned by people you know. This can give you a personal reference point before testing beds in a store.

Online Brand Showrooms

A growing number of online mattress brands operate showrooms in certain cities. See if companies you’re considering have a physical location you can visit to test their online mattresses.

By evaluating mattresses in person at one or more of these locations, you’ll get the valuable hands-on experience needed to determine whether a particular bed provides the right blend of comfort and support for your sleep needs. Naturally, if you purchase a mattress with a sleep trial, you can continue to test it within the comfort of your home.

How Long Should You Try Out a New Mattress?

It depends on where you’re testing the mattress. Spending over 15 minutes testing a mattress can boost your satisfaction compared to those who spend less time. Laying down for just 5 minutes in different sleeping positions can help you better gauge the mattress’s comfort level. 

However, the longer you can test out a mattress, the better. Some showrooms even have nap rooms set up that let you really test drive a mattress before buying it. 

Sometimes, though, it’s best to plan on thorough testing after you buy a mattress. Numerous companies also offer sleep trials where you can sleep on the mattress for a specified duration and return it for free, and we strongly suggest seeking out a bed model with one. After buying the mattress, these trials can be a key factor in determining your overall comfort.

Testing a Mattress

Looking to figure out the steps for maximum mattress comfort testing? Well, here are some handy tips to ensure your body gets the right support and your spine stays in a neutral position. To assess and test mattress comfort, the best method is to try it out in a store.

When you’re evaluating comfort, don’t forget to consider your favorite sleeping position and the firmness level of the mattress. You need to know whether you need a firmer or a softer mattress, to avoid sudden aches, pains, and restless nights. But remember, your personal comfort preference plays a big role in this, and it’s not just about sleep position and mattress firmness. Consulting a mattress expert can be a big help in finding that ideal balance.

Testing Temperature Regulation

Temperature regulation in mattresses primarily aims to keep a hot sleeper cool, but some innovative beds include heating technology. Complaints of “sleeping hot” often arise due to a mattress’s heat retention, commonly found in memory foam mattresses.

If you tend to be a hot sleeper, we suggest steering clear of memory foam and synthetic latex mattresses, which can trap body heat.

Instead, opt for mattresses constructed from natural latex, breathable foams, innerspring, or hybrid materials, as these are known to provide a cooler sleep environment, making them the best choice for those who prefer comfortable clothes and require efficient temperature regulation.

In other words, your choice of materials helps determine the ideal cooling mattress for your specific needs.

Testing Mattress Responsiveness

Or, how quickly does a mattress bounce back? To determine this response time, lie in your preferred sleeping position on the bed, then switch positions and observe how long it takes the mattress to bounce back.

Memory foam mattresses tend to have a faster response time compared to gel foam mattresses, while innerspring and latex mattresses recover most swiftly, and hybrid mattresses fall somewhere in between, depending on the type of foam used in the comfort layer, helping you determine the plush feel you desire.

Testing Motion Transfer

For a better understanding of how a mattress affects your sleep when sharing a bed, consider visiting a mattress store with your spouse. Trying out various mattresses for couples will help you determine their ability to reduce motion transfer, especially if you sleep with your partner, children, or pets.

The right level of comfort and padding in a motion-isolating mattress can significantly reduce pressure points, minimizing tossing and turning and ensuring fewer aches and pains upon waking up. This will assist you in evaluating how effectively the mattress reduces motion transfer and provides support to both of you.

When your partner shifts positions on the mattress, it’s crucial to note how much movement you experience during the testing process, as this relates to personal preferences and comfort, particularly if you suffer from hip pain. It’s also important to note that choosing the wrong firmness in a mattress can cause hip pain, primarily through inadequate pressure relief.

Testing Mattress Edge Support

Choosing a mattress model with robust edge support is vital if your partner takes up space or you have kids who join in or need help. To gauge how a mattress model affects support, just sit on the side and assess how the mattress edge support feels.

Checking for Support and Spine Alignment

Lying on a mattress, whether in-store or during an online sleep trial, is the way to check for support and spinal alignment. Remember, support and spinal alignment differ from mattress to mattress, so what feels like the most comfortable mattress to you might not be the same for your partner.

Checking out mattress support is vital because it determines how well your spine maintains its alignment and distributes weight evenly.

Proper support is essential for your body to rest comfortably on one of the best mattresses. When there’s a lack of support, you might end up with muscle aches, back pain, stiffness, and disrupted sleep. If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, chances are your mattress isn’t giving you the support and spinal alignment you need.

Our bodies aren’t straight lines, they have curves. The right mattress firmness should support your back while accommodating your arches. Different sleep positions require varying levels of support in different areas. Listen to the advice of mattress experts and consider your firmness preference to get the right match.

It’s essential to pick a mattress for your body type that suits your unique needs and accommodates you in all the right places. The way you sleep significantly impacts how the mattress affects your comfort, so choose wisely based on your preferred sleeping positions.

Here’s how you can evaluate spinal alignment depending on your preferred sleeping position.

Back Sleepers

As you lay on a mattress, focus on the curve of your lower back, that part where your body shape dips. Now, attempt to slip your hand beneath that area. If your hand easily glides under, it’s possible that the mattress is way too firm for you. On the other hand, if your hand can’t slide through at all, chances are the mattress is too soft.

This trick is particularly helpful for back sleepers, who rely on good support for their spine. So, always remember, finding that right balance in firmness is the key to better support for your back.

See also our guide to the best mattresses for back sleepers.

Side Sleepers

Have someone take a picture of your back or get a friend to check the alignment of your spine while you’re lying on your usual sleeping side. Make sure to see if your spine is nice and straight. If it’s not, it might be time to switch to another mattress.

This tip works especially well for side sleepers who need that comfort layer to keep their spine in check. So, remember if you’re a side sleeper, check that spine alignment, and if it’s not right, seek out a new mattress for better sleep.

See also our guide to the best mattresses for side sleepers.

Stomach Sleepers

Testing a mattress when you’re a stomach sleeper can be tricky because it’s hard for any mattress to support your spine in this position fully. Begin by lying down on the mattress and pay attention to how it feels beneath your feet. If it’s making you sink then there might be an issue with your spine alignment.

Take your time on the bed for over 20 minutes and watch out for any pressure buildup or lower back discomfort. Memory foam provides the necessary support to keep your spine in check while lying in this position.

See also our guide to the best mattresses for stomach sleepers.


How do you test a mattress before buying?

Testing a mattress before buying can help you ensure it meets your comfort and support needs. To physically try out different mattresses, go to a mattress store or showroom. Lie down on them for at least 10-15 minutes in your usual sleeping positions. If possible, bring your own pillow to provide a more accurate representation of how comfortable the mattress will be for you.

Try several mattresses with different firmness levels and materials to find the one that suits you best and provides pressure relief. Don’t hesitate to ask the salesperson questions about the mattress’s features, materials, and warranties. Before purchasing one, also make sure you ask about the store’s return or exchange policy. Some stores offer a trial period during which you can return the mattress if it doesn’t suit your needs.

How can I test my mattress firmness at home?

It’s quite simple to test if you choose the right firmness. Just lie down in your preferred position (back, side, stomach) and assess the bed’s comfort and support. Pay attention to any discomfort or pressure points.

Make sure you also evaluate the quality of your sleep as the days go by. If you wake up with aches, pains, or discomfort, your mattress may not be providing adequate support.

Should I buy a mattress without testing it?

While you may prefer to test a mattress before buying it, you may need to buy a mattress without trying it when considering an online mattress-in-a-box. If you can’t test a bed, do your research on mattress models.

Read detailed product descriptions, reviews, and specifications to understand the mattress’s features, materials, and firmness levels. Pay close attention to reviews from customers who share similar preferences or sleep issues as you, such as sleepers who bought a mattress for back pain.

Look for mattresses that offer a generous trial period with a hassle-free return policy. This allows you to test the mattress at home and return it if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Lastly, choose a mattress with a reliable warranty that covers manufacturing defects and structural issues.

How do you know if your new mattress is bad?

Restlessness during the night, frequent tossing and turning, or difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position are signs of a mattress that fails to meet your comfort needs. And be wary if you experience more sleep disturbances than usual, such as waking up frequently during the night, it may be due to discomfort or inadequate support from your mattress. A bad mattress can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to fatigue and irritability during the day.

Morning aches and pains are another If you wake up with persistent body aches, stiffness, or discomfort, it’s a strong indication that your mattress is not adequately cushioning your body or maintaining your spine’s natural alignment during sleep. Couples should also note if a new mattress has poor motion isolation or not, as that can cause one partner to wake up the other.

How long should I test a mattress?

How long you should take to decide if a mattress is right for you can depend on the return policy offered by the manufacturer or retailer. Ideally, though, you should test a mattress for at least 30 nights. This period allows your body to adjust to the new mattress and ensures you’ve experienced it in various sleeping positions and conditions.

If you’re not satisfied within the trial period, take advantage of the return or exchange policy to find a more suitable mattress.


Testing mattresses to match your preferred sleeping positions is the key to securing a good night’s sleep and improved sleep quality. By carefully assessing how a mattress supports your body and reduces motion transfer, you can find the best mattress for your unique needs, ensuring nights are filled with restful slumber.

So, remember to test thoroughly and choose wisely to enhance your sleep quality and overall well-being. Whether you return the mattress or not, you can put the mattress through its paces.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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