Shopping for a mattress can feel kind of like shopping for a car. There are seemingly endless options, it can be hard to tell the difference between them, and everyone has an opinion. Prices are all over the map, and if you don’t want to buy used, you reallydon’t want to buy used. These two shopping experiences also happen to be similar in that the test drive is essential to making the right decision. We hope these tips will help you pare down your options and consider what’s paramount during that all-important mattress test-drive phase. So, before you head down to your local mattress store (A Goodnight Sleepstore, of course, if you’re in the Carolinas), let’s break all this complexity down into two simple factors.

Support + Comfort = Feel

First of all, though we do provide a scale of firmness for your reference, you can throw that out the window while you’re in the store. More important than a particular mattress’s place on the firmness spectrum is that you understand the makeup of two basic components.

The feel of a mattress is made up of two factors:
• The Support Layer
• The Comfort Layer

The Support Layer

The support layer is the bottom layer that forms the foundation of the mattress, but don’t confuse it with box springs or foundations. (It’s likely that you’ll need one of those regardless of which mattress you choose.) The support layer determines whether a mattress offers firm, medium, or soft support. In traditional inner-spring mattresses, the support layer is composed of coils. In newer models, like memory foam and hybrid mattresses, it’s often comprised of high-density foam or a combination of foam and coils. In particularly spine-healthy mattresses (those that would be recommended by a chiropractor), the middle of the bed might include more supportive barrel coils for even more support. When considering your support layer, it’s important to make sure you have enough firmness to support a healthy posture. You can add layers of softness on top of a firm mattress, but you can’t add support to a soft one.

The Comfort Layer

The comfort layer is everything that lies on top of the support layer. In an extra firm model, this layer is likely to be minimal. In a modern plush mattress, though, you’re liable to find up to four or five individual foam comfort layers atop the support layer. In addition to making you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, the comfort layer performs functions like minimizing motion transfer, drawing heat away from your body to keep you cool, and conforming to your body to relieve pressure points. Once you’ve chosen the characteristics of your support layer, the comfort decision becomes easy. You’re welcome to lay around in our store for the afternoon, but many customers make their comfort decisions in the blink of an eye!

Material Differences

When you break each mattress down into its individual layers (made simple by cross-sections in the store), it’s easy to see the difference between models and pricing tiers. Ultimately, you just need to identify the materials that will keep you feeling comfortable. Be sure to ask informed questions to get clear about what makes up the layers in your potential future mattress.


Mattress coils can get overly complicated, but it’s worth having a quick conversation about them. How many coils are in each mattress you’re considering? Are the coils tempered, non-tempered, or continuous? Are they barrel coils? Are the coils in the middle different from those throughout the rest of the mattress? By asking coil-related questions, you’ll wind up with some extra decision-making insight.


Ask to see and feel the cross-section of any mattress you’re seriously considering – and those of one or two you’re not. By touching the foam layers of a mattress you really like (even if it’s outside your price range), you can get a feel for which foams you prefer. These can include memory foams, gel-infused foams, supportive foams, and an array of other technologically advanced formulas. If you’re concerned about environmental concerns, consider organic latex instead of memory foam, or ask about independent certifications. To get an even better understanding, ask about the density of the foam in the base layer. You’ll often see that number go down with pricing tiers.


Warranties vary widely. We understand that it takes more time to get a good feel for your mattress than you’re able to spend lying around in our store. For that reason, we give our customers 30 days to sleep on their new mattress risk-free. While many mattress retailers will only issue store credit for returns, our Goodnight Sleep Guarantee offers a choice between an exchange for another mattress or a full refund. Wherever you shop, it’s crucial to understand your warranty. Things like stains can void a warranty, so read the fine print and be sure to take precautions to protect your investment.

It’s that simple!

So, maybe it’s undeniable that choosing the right mattress is a little bit complicated. But if you ask the right questions and get your support and comfort layers right, you’ll be sleeping soundly – with no regrets – in no time. When you’re ready to be guided through the in-store decision-making process, we’ll be here for you with no pressure and total support. Come see us at A Goodnight Sleepstore.

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