There's a reason "Mattress in a Box" made an appearance on our Millennial Apartment Bingo board. They're comfortable, easy to set up, and considerably cheaper than what you'd find at an old-fashioned mattress store.
The downside? Unlike going to a traditional brick-and-mortar store, you can't try out your mattress before buying it. Instead, you're left to your own devices to find a mattress that sounds great and hope for the best. Ugh.
But what if we told you buying a mattress online didn't have to be so unpredictable? To help ease your search, two experts share key questions every shopper should ask before adding one to your cart:
1. "Do I want memory foam or a hybrid mattress?"
You spend a third of your life in bed (really), so it's important to select a mattress that's comfortable. Sure, you can't test an online mattress beforehand, but knowing the difference between memory foam and hybrid will help streamline your search.
"Not everyone knows their preference right off the bat," says Ran Reske, co-founder of Nectar Sleep. "Understanding if you'd prefer a memory foam or hybrid mattress is the first step you should take."
According to Sleepopolis, memory foam mattresses contour to your body and offer spinal support and alignment, making them strong contenders for anyone who has back problems or loves the feeling of sinking (yes, sinking) into bed.
Hybrid models, on the other hand, are like the Goldilocks of mattresses. They usually feature traditional springs and plush memory foam. If you want a mattress that's supportive, but not too firm, they're a sound choice.
2. "How much do I want to spend?"
While online mattresses are generally cheaper than their brick and mortar counterparts, they're sold at a range of price points. Some companies price their mattresses in the triple digits, while others sell 'em for over one thousand dollars a pop.
So how much should you spend? Well, that's up to you.
Neil Parikh, co-founder and COO of Casper, says it's important to buy a mattress that fits comfortably within your budget. Many companies—Casper included — have several models at different price points, so there's something for everyone.
If you're deciding between two styles that are similar in price, Reske recommends reading the customer reviews.
3. "What research and testing went into the development of the mattress?"
Practice makes perfect—especially when it comes to your mattress. Truth is, very few companies get it right on the first try and usually go through rounds of research and focus groups.
A behind-the-scenes look will not only give you a better understanding of your mattress, it will make you more confident with your purchase.
"It's important to understand how much has been invested in ensuring the highest quality product," Parikh says, adding the Casper mattress is a result of hundreds of prototypes and hours of testing.
4. "Are there any special features?"
No two mattress companies are created equal, and many of them have infused interesting features into their design. Sure, mattresses that feature hypoallergenic materials or temperature-regulating properties sound cool, but do you really need them?
"Look for what the mattresses you are considering are made out of to make sure you're getting one that's more than just a place to sleep," Reske says.
For example, a mattress with cooling properties is perfect for warm sleepers.
5. "What's the return policy?"
Let's face it, mistakes happen. A mattress can sound perfect on paper, but doesn't match your lifestyle or sleeping habits in real time. Give yourself some peace of mind by reading about the return policy before taking the plunge.
"Buying a mattress online for the first time can be overwhelming, so make sure you're covered by a strong return policy in case the mattress isn't right for you," Reske advises.
Casper will pick up your mattress and give you a full refund up to 100 days after your purchase, while Nectar's 365 Night Home Trial gives you the freedom to test the mattress at home for a full year.