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How to Test a Mattress

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 6 minutes

  • Importance of In-Store Testing: While online shopping offers convenience, testing a mattress in-store is crucial. Physical testing allows assessment of firmness, support, comfort, motion transfer, and edge support, ensuring the mattress meets individual needs.
  • Factors to Assess: When testing a mattress, focus on firmness by lying down for at least 10-15 minutes, evaluating support for spinal alignment, checking comfort based on preferred sleep positions, assessing motion transfer, and ensuring adequate edge support.
  • Subjectivity and Personal Preference: Recognize that preferences for firmness, comfort, and support differ among individuals. Trust your judgment and consider personal sleeping habits and needs while testing a mattress for a more satisfying sleep experience.

When purchasing a new mattress, testing it in-store before deciding is crucial. While online shopping offers convenience, nothing beats the experience of actually lying down on a mattress and getting a feel for it. This complete guide will show you how to test a mattress in a store. It’ll give you the necessary information and tools to make a smart choice.

The Importance of Testing a Mattress In-Store

Before diving into the specifics of mattress testing, let’s understand why it is essential to test a mattress in-store. While online mattress companies offer sleep trials, certain aspects of a mattress can only be assessed through physical testing. By lying on a mattress in-store, you can evaluate its firmness, support, comfort, motion transfer, and edge support, ensuring that it meets your needs and preferences.

How to Test a Mattress for Firmness

One of the critical factors to consider when testing a mattress is its firmness. Firmness describes the softness or hardness of a mattress while you’re lying down. It is a personal preference that varies from individual to individual. To test the firmness of a mattress in-store, follow these steps:

  • Try lying on the mattress in your favorite sleep position for at least 10-15 minutes. This will give you a better understanding of how the mattress feels under your body.
  • Pay attention to how the mattress supports your body and relieves pressure points. An overly firm mattress might lead to discomfort, whereas an excessively soft one might lack proper support.
  • Consider your personal preferences and needs. If you prefer a firmer mattress for better back support or a softer one for pressure relief, consider that during the testing process.

Remember, mattress firmness is subjective, and what feels comfortable to one person may not be suitable for another. By testing a mattress in-store, you can determine its firmness level and make an informed decision.

Evaluating Support and Spinal Alignment

If a mattress offers good support and aligns your spine, it can be determined by trying it in-store or testing it at home during a sleep trial if purchased online. Remember that what feels comfy for you might not be the same for your partner.

The support of a mattress is vital as it affects how well your spine stays aligned and spreads your body weight evenly. A mattress lacking proper support can lead to muscle aches, back pain, stiffness, and disrupted sleep. If you’ve been experiencing any of these issues, your mattress might not give you the right support and alignment.

Remember, your body isn’t completely straight; it has curves. The right mattress should support these curves while maintaining your back’s alignment. Different sleep positions (back, side, or stomach) require varying levels of support in different areas.

Here are ways to check spinal alignment based on your sleeping position:

Back Sleepers:

  • Slide your hand under the small of your back while lying down on the mattress. The mattress should be neither overly firm nor excessively soft. It should provide enough support to maintain the natural curve of your lower back.

Side Sleepers:

  • Lie on your side and have someone take a picture of your back or check the alignment of your spine. Your spine should be straight, without any noticeable curves or misalignments.

Stomach Sleepers:

  • Finding a mattress that adequately supports the spine in the stomach sleeping position is challenging. However, you can lie down on a mattress and observe if it causes your spine to sink or if there is any pressure buildup or lower back pain.

Proper support and spinal alignment are vital for a good night’s sleep and overall health. By testing a mattress in-store, you can assess how well it supports your body and aligns your spine.

See Also: How to Find the Best Sleeping Position on an Adjustable Bed

Assessing Comfort Level

Comfort is arguably the most critical aspect to consider when purchasing a mattress. After all, you want to ensure that you will enjoy a restful and comfortable sleep night after night. To test the comfort level of a mattress in-store, keep the following points in mind:

  • Try lying down on the mattress in your favorite sleep position for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes. Does it provide the right amount of cushioning and support?
  • Consider your preferred sleeping position and the firmness level of the mattress. A mattress that is too firm or too soft may lead to discomfort and restless nights.
  • Remember that comfort is personal and differs from individual to individual. What feels comfortable to one individual may not be the same for another. Trust your judgment when determining a mattress’s comfort level.

By testing the comfort level of a mattress in-store, you can ensure that it meets your specific requirements and preferences, resulting in a better sleep experience.

Evaluating Motion Transfer

Motion transfer becomes crucial if you share a bed with a partner or have a restless sleeper next to you. A mattress providing solid motion isolation stops movements on one side of the bed from bothering the other person. Here’s how you can evaluate motion transfer when testing a mattress in-store:

  • Lie down on the mattress and ask your partner or a store associate to move around on the other side of the bed.
  • Pay attention to whether you can feel their movements transferring to your side of the mattress. A mattress with excellent motion isolation helps reduce motion transfer, ensuring you can sleep without disturbances.

By testing a mattress for motion transfer in-store, you can ensure that you and your partner can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep, even if you are restless.

Assessing Edge Support

Edge support is particularly important if you share a bed with a partner or need extra support when getting in and out of bed. A mattress with good edge support ensures that you can comfortably use the entire surface of the mattress without feeling like you might roll off. Here’s how you can assess edge support when testing a mattress:

  • Sit on the edge of the mattress and observe how it supports your weight. The mattress should provide a stable and secure surface without excessive sinking or sagging.
  • Lie down near the edge of the mattress and see if you feel supported and secure. The mattress should provide consistent support across the entire surface, including the edges.

When you test a mattress for edge support at the store, you can make sure it fits your needs, whether you’re sharing the bed or require extra support while getting in and out of bed.


How much support do you need?

While people often interchange the terms, mattress firmness and mattress support aren’t synonymous. Mattress support refers to the bed’s structural capacity rather than the desired firmness level. It indicates how effectively your weight gets distributed to maintain a neutral spinal position. Insufficient support may lead to muscle discomfort, backaches, or stiffness, impacting sleep quality, especially if you have prior injuries or joint issues.

What should I consider when testing a memory foam mattress?

When testing memory foam mattresses, consider your sleeping positions and how the mattress supports your body curves. Memory foam mattresses contour to your body shape, offering individualized support. Also, assess the mattress’s ability to reduce motion transfer if sharing the bed is a concern.

Are hybrid mattresses better than memory foam mattresses?

Hybrid mattresses combine the benefits of memory foam with other materials like coils or latex. The choice between hybrid and memory foam mattresses depends on your preferences. Hybrid mattresses might offer more bounce, while memory foam mattresses excel in contouring to your body’s shape.

How can mattress experts help me choose the right mattress model?

Mattress experts in-store or online can guide you based on your sleeping positions, preferences, and body type. They can recommend mattress models that suit your specific needs, ensuring better sleep quality and comfort.

Should I opt for a softer mattress for better sleep quality?

The ideal firmness varies based on individual preferences and sleeping positions. A softer mattress may suit side sleepers, providing cushioning for shoulders and hips. However, back or stomach sleepers might prefer a firmer mattress for better spinal alignment.

Can testing a mattress in-store be similar to trying a mattress online?

While testing a mattress in-store allows immediate physical assessment, trying a mattress online through sleep trials offers a more extended period for evaluation. Both methods allow you to gauge comfort, support, and alignment based on your sleep positions and preferences.


Testing a mattress in-store before purchasing is essential in the mattress-buying process. Use the guidelines and tips in this thorough guide to assess a mattress’s firmness, support, comfort, motion transfer, and edge support. This helps you find one that suits your needs and preferences. Remember, everyone’s different, so trust your judgment to choose the best mattress for a good night’s sleep.

Christine Lapp is a full-time graduate student and part-time freelancer for Sleep Junkie. Since she was a little girl on the soccer field, Christine has had a love for sports, and she believes everybody should get up and get moving once a day. Now, she incorporates her love for exercise into her studies, pursuing a degree in exercise physiology. Christine understands that what you do during your waking hours has a direct impact on your night’s sleep. In our better sleep guides, she offers advice for developing healthy daytime habits to nurture a more peaceful slumber.

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