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For most of us, a bed is the most important piece of furniture in a household. Buying a new bed is an event not to be taken lightly because if you get it wrong, you’re stuck with it for a long time.

Choosing the right mattress and base is the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one. Waking up fresh and restful, or waking up in a bad mood and in agony. You need to treat buying a new bed – particularly a new mattress – the same way you would a new car.

There are a few things you can do that will guarantee you make the right choice and have long-term satisfaction with your purchase.

Do your research

Everyone is different, and there is a mattress to suit your individual needs. Read up on the kinds of mattresses on the market that are ergonomically designed for various physical and medical needs, and what you personally need.

Mattress technology and design are so advanced these days, and you have a wide choice available to you that promise different features. It can be overwhelming, and a pushy bed salesman can push you in the wrong direction. Go into the process equipped with the right knowledge to make the right decision.

Test drive your mattress

The idea that you can dial a bed company and order a bed over the phone is hard to understand, particularly if you’re buying a bed for the first time or buying one many years after you bought your current bed. Bed technology has improved dramatically. Make time to test drive the choice of mattresses in your budget.

Don’t be shy! Take your time in the shop; lie down, toss and turn, bounce up and down. Don’t just sit on the edge of the bed; nestle in for a good 10 minutes or more. Get a good feel for the mattress. Try out a pricier bed because you might want to stretch your budget and splash out on a more expensive one once you’ve spent some time lying on it.

Take your partner to the bed shop with you as you both must be happy with the bed you buy. He might want a hard bed; you like a soft bed. Find a compromise?

Understand the terminology

Don’t let a salesperson bamboozle you with bed lingo that sounds awesome but means nothing. They’ll gush on about orthopedic benefits and medically-approved features when they don’t exist. Manufacturers can put a fancy label on the bed because marketing campaigns the industry is not strictly regulated.

Do your research online first and go to a bed shop with an idea of three or four brands you’d like to test drive. Forget the fancy terminology, trust your instincts.

Ask about the return policy

Before you make a final decision, ask about the shop’s return policy and if it includes a money-back guarantee or exchange. You should have at least 7-days grace to sleep in the bed at home and be able to return or exchange it if you’re not happy. Reputable bed companies offer a return/exchange policy; avoid buying a bed from the budget shops if possible.

Check the warranty

A good mattress should come with a 10-year warranty. This should be either a full-replacement warranty or non-prorated warranty. It covers manufacturing defaults, not damage caused by yourself or your children.

Treat your bed well, and it should serve you well if you’ve chosen the right bed for your needs.

Choose a bed shop that specializes in mattresses

Avoid going the budget route and buying a bed from a shop that sells its own brand. Unless you have tried a bed that is not one of the mainstream brands, play it safe and choose a well-known brand from a reputable bed shop that stocks beds backed by years of technological research and development.

Don’t buy a cheap bed

Your health and wellness rely on a good night’s sleep. Money saved now will cost you dearly in the long run. Rather, keep an eye out for specials on well-known brands or try to negotiate savings on the delivery charge. Save up for a good bed because it’s an investment in your future health.