Many mattress review sites recommend budgeting about $1,000 for a new mattress. Though this number can feel pretty high, it’s better to spend more from the get-go rather than opt for a cheap mattress you’ll need to replace in a few years. Though some mattresses are inexpensive, the sleep risks aren’t worth the price.
Doing some research will help you avoid cheap mattress sets. The word “cheap” doesn’t just refer to the price tag. The quality of materials could be lower, and this can lead to the mattress losing its shape faster.
Used mattresses can lead to serious health consequences. Similarly, a new mattress made from low-quality materials can cause health problems.
Holding to the standard budget of $1,000 for a new mattress is one way to help you avoid problems with used or cheap mattresses. In your search, you should find many of the best online mattress brands list their mattresses around this price range. In this article, we’ll outline some of the problems with cheap beds to illustrate why it’s so important to avoid them.
Most mattress brands offer a sleep trial, so you have the opportunity to test it in your own home and determine if the materials and type of bed work well for your body. Even if a mattress is well made, however, it may not suit your unique physical needs.
For example, the best mattress for stomach sleepers is typically a firmer mattress. If a stomach sleeper buys a high-quality, but soft, mattress they’ll probably end up uncomfortable as it’s not a fit for their sleep position. To find the best mattress for your sleep style, be sure to read our other guides to see which mattress is best for your specific style of sleep.
If a mattress does not have a clear sleep trial or return policy, you should avoid it altogether. It is likely made from low-quality materials that will cause you pain.
During your sleep trial, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you wake up feeling stiff?
- Do you wake up with muscle or joint aches?
- Do you feel tired or grumpy when you get up?
- Did you sleep better on your old mattress?
- Did you wake up several times through the night?
- Do you feel well rested?
It’s important to note that when you change mattresses, your body goes through an adjustment cycle. The adjustment cycle can last around 30 days. During this time, your muscles and joints are adapting to a whole new support system than what it’s used to with your old mattress. Some companies will require you to keep their mattress for a minimum of 30 days, or through the duration of the sleep trial, to give their bed an honest chance. We also recommend keeping your mattress for at least 30 days before deciding it’s not the right fit. The reason is, you may have the best mattress for you, but if you don’t give it a proper chance, you may end up passing on it altogether. To not shortchange your quality of sleep, try any new mattress for at least 30 nights.
If you want or need a new mattress and do not feel like you need a sleep trial, it is best to go to a retailer with mattresses on display in a showroom. You can try all the different mattresses with bedding and determine if they will suit your body’s needs. Though this is not the same as sleeping on the bed for months on end, if you lie down on the bed for about 15 minutes, you should be able to confirm that the mattress conforms to your shape. It’s also important to take note of the materials used and the quality of them. Testing mattresses of different materials will help you determine which material you prefer, whether it be memory foam, latex, or an inner coil system. The quality of the material should be a good indicator of the likelihood of it breaking down over time, or becoming uncomfortable quickly.
Other signs that your mattress is made from low-quality materials include:
- Deformation: Memory foam mattresses are built to hold some shape, cradling your body for comfort. However, if a foam or pillow-top mattress sinks with your body weight and does not recover within a minute, the materials may be inferior.
- Sagging: A mattress that is cared for properly and made well should last 7 to 10 years without developing any sags or indentations.
- Chemical smell: Foam mattresses can outgas for a day or two after they are unpacked and set up, but this should go away. In contrast, cheap mattresses may smell strange for weeks. They can make your whole room smell like chemicals. A chemical-scented bedroom is not the healthiest sleeping environment.
- Noise and movement: Even if a brand claims to reduce motion transfer between partners, you may end up losing sleep on a cheap mattress if it doesn’t have the motion isolating abilities advertised. If the foam sags or coils squeak with movement, you’re likely to wake up if your partner tosses and turns at night.
Buying A Cheap Mattress Set Can Add Up
If you spend the money on an expensive, luxury mattress that costs $3,000 and lasts for ten years, this is loosely equivalent to paying $300 per year on a bed. If you do your research, find a high-quality mattress at the mid-level price of $1,300, and take care of it, so it lasts for ten years, you spend about $130 per year for the mattress.
If you spend $100 on a discount mattress, you may still feel like you have won the price battle, but if you’re stuck replacing it after only a few years, you will more than likely end up spending more in the long-run.
Because cheap mattresses are made from low-grade materials, it’s likely the mattress will lose its shape or become damaged much faster. Meaning, you will have to replace it more often. Assuming you purchase a similar mattress each time, you may end up paying a freight delivery fee or a bed-in-a-box delivery fee.
If you decide to make adjustments to your mattress, like add more pillows, thicker linens, or mattress toppers to prolong its lifespan, the cost can add up. Even though these accessory products can be a great way to make an older mattress last a little longer, you should not need them for a mattress that is only a few years old. In the grand scheme of things, these accessories will not significantly enhance the quality of the bed, and will probably only buy you an extra year or two of use. Regularly having to buy these accessory products makes the cost of healthy sleep more expensive.
If you opt for a cheap mattress, you’re more than likely going to get low-quality sleep. Not getting enough sleep, or not getting enough restful sleep, can affect almost every aspect of your life: your work, relationships, diet, and overall mood. Your memory, judgment, and focus will all be affected by a little sleep deprivation, to say nothing of chronic sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep has a severe impact on your physical and mental health; and, if you’re always buying new accessories for sleep, a serious impact on your wallet.
You Do Not Get the Same Care and Attention
Mattress brands that are concerned with the craftsmanship of their mattresses are also concerned with the quality of their customer service. They know their materials will last longer, so they offer longer sleep trials and warranty periods. They are also usually more responsive to customer concerns. Brands using high-quality materials will likely show their certifications and awards on their website, as well.
In contrast, cheap mattresses probably do not come with a sleep trial. They also may not have a clearly-stated warranty or return policy. When it comes time to contact customer service, It may take a long time, if you get in contact with one at all. If you do get in touch with them, they probably won’t be too transparent about what materials they use in their mattresses. For example, cheap memory foam mattress brands may not talk about how their memory foam is manufactured or provide you with their exact density or ILD.
You should be able to speak with a customer service agent — in person, on the phone, by email, or through an online form — about any questions or concerns you have regarding their mattress. If you cannot find a way to contact the company or they are not responsive to your questions, it should be a red flag, indicating they probably don’t have the best mattresses.
Before buying a mattress from a brand you’ve never heard of, be sure to read their customer reviews and check them out on the Better Business Bureau website. It’s important to make sure that the brand’s integrity is apparent, both from consumer reviews and from regulators.
Health Risks With Used and Cheap Mattress Sets
It’s never good to spend a lot of money on low-quality sleep. Besides financial risks, there are also serious health risks associated with both cheap materials and sleep deprivation. These may develop and appear over the years if you sleep on a cheap mattress.
- Muscle and joint pain: Low-quality foam mattresses do not retain their shape, meaning they are likely to sink or sag over time. This leads to misalignment of your neck, back, hips, shoulders, knees, and other sensitive areas, which can lead to pain and aching. Because innerspring coil mattresses may lose the padding over the coils, you might feel springs poking into your body in just a matter of months. These pressure points can also cause pain. Over time, you may damage your joints or develop chronic pain.
- Lack of sleep: Physical discomfort can make you wake up more often throughout the night to adjust your body. Repeatedly waking up during the night can cause sleep deprivation, impacting how well you think, learn, and physically respond to stimuli. If you drive while sleep-deprived, you put yourself at risk of being in a dangerous accident.
- Higher stress: As your body attempts to compensate for less sleep, your brain will release more adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones can keep you awake and also make you feel more anxious, jittery, or angry.
- Skin problems: Along with high stress comes an increased risk of developing acne. Poor-quality mattress materials may leak chemicals that can trigger inflammation or skin irritation; this may start with itching and turn into a more serious skin condition. People who suffer from eczema or chronic acne can develop worsened symptoms.
- Weight gain: Sleep deprivation can result in weight gain. If your sleep cycle is consistently disturbed because of a poor-quality mattress, your body will have a hard time regulating your hormones and your metabolism will also begin to slow down. These two problems combined mean you will feel hungrier and crave simple calories like sugar. Ultimately, resulting in weight gain.
- Mental health issues: Over time, ongoing trouble regulating your neurotransmitters and hormones can contribute to the development of mental health disorders, especially depression. Unfortunately, because a symptom of depression is insomnia, symptoms of this condition can contribute to even less sleep.
- Mold or mildew: Even high-quality mattresses are susceptible to mold and mildew over time, especially if exposed to a humid environment or if spills are not cleaned up quickly. However, cheaper mattresses may not breathe as well, or they may have poor air flow. The lack of breathability in these beds contributes to a buildup of moisture, which increases the risk of spores. The accumulation of mold spores increases the likelihood of an allergy attack, sinus problems, breathing trouble, and lung infections.
Quality Mattresses Within Your Reach
In addition to offering a range of prices, many quality mattress brands offer regular sales and deals. If you feel you’ve found the best mattress for yourself, but it’s outside your budget, ask about financing options or mattress sales. Buying a cheap mattress because you think it will save you money can ultimately hurt your pocketbook and your health.
- Affordable Mattress Hunt: Finding the Best Bed for the Money. (February 16, 2016). Savvy Sleeper.
- Need to Buy a New Mattress? Read This Before You Do. Angie’s List.
- When to Say “So Long” to Your Mattress. The Better Sleep Council.
- Five Surprising Signs You’re Sleeping on a Bad Mattress. (December 8, 2017). Prevention.
- What Triggers Consumers to Replace Their Mattresses? (January 1, 2017). Bed Times Magazine.