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Buying a Bed Guide: What to Know About How to Buy a Bed or Mattress

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse


Author: Sandy Coetzee | Pretoria Branch Manager | The Mattress Warehouse

It’s that time of day again. The sun is long gone and you can’t postpone it any longer. You have to go to bed. But you really don’t enjoy going to bed because, well, your bed is squeaky and it hurts your back. And so instead of going to bed, you are searching for guides on buying a bed or new mattress, right?  Well, you clicked on the right link! In this article, Sandy Coetze, Branch Manager and one of our in-store experts at The Mattress Warehouse walks you through the entire process of buying a new bed. From signs that your bed is past its prime to which types of mattresses and beds suit different sleeping styles and body types. Keep reading.

When should you replace your mattress?

Sandy: There are a couple of signs that will indicate when to buy a new mattress:

  • Age – The average lifespan of a mattress is 8 to 10 years. So if you’ve had your mattress for nearly a decade, it might be time to buy a new mattress.
  • Quality of sleep – If you feel like you aren’t getting restorative sleep anymore, your mattress may be past its prime. Of course, there are other factors that can affect the quality of your sleep. So if you have a relatively new mattress and you’ve been happy with it up until recently, ask yourself if you’ve undergone any lifestyle changes recently, like changing your diet. Mattresses are expensive, so you don’t want to buy a new one and still struggle to sleep.
  • Damaged and saggy – When you can see indentations in your mattress that wasn’t there before, see springs sticking out of the mattress, or feel it sag when you lie down. Well, that might just be the best time to buy a new mattress.
  • Body pains – Consider buying a new mattress if you wake up with stiff or sore muscles every day.
  • Body change – Remember that your body changes over time and as such needs different support from a mattress. For instance, teenagers and young adults oftentimes need something different from their beds. Sometimes it makes sense to replace your mattress when you go through life transitions.
  • Better sleep elsewhere – Do you sleep better when you are not home? There might be some underlying issues at home that affects your sleep. But then again, the solution might be as simple as buying a bed.

If you’ve noticed one or more of these signs, then getting a new mattress should become a priority for you. For more in-depth information, take a look at Is it time to buy a new mattress? In the next section, we walk you through everything you need to know about how to choose a new bed or mattress.

What to look for when buying a bed or mattress?

Five single mattresses stacked on top of each other.

Not all mattresses are equal.

Sandy: The first thing you have to ask yourself is if you are (or were) happy with the bed you have. If so, a good place to start would be to look at your current bed’s specifications and start shopping around for something similar. Why change a good recipe? On the other hand, if you’ve never experienced good quality sleep on the mattress you have, The Mattress Warehouse has some excellent guidelines on how to choose a mattress or new bed. When buying a mattress, Sandy asks that you keep the following in mind:

  1. Types of mattresses
  2. Size of the bed or mattress
  3. Mattress firmness
  4. Your sleep style

Ps. If you share your bed with a partner, they should see this too. Go through it together and ask yourselves what you want in a new bed and what doesn’t work for you.


Let’s dive in.

1. Type of mattress you need

Sandy: This is an important question because there are various types of mattresses, each type with its own unique pros and cons. Moreover, not every type of mattress might be right for you. So what types of mattresses are there to choose from?

  • Memory foam – These mattresses mould to the shape of your body. The first memory foam mattresses were notorious for trapping heat, making for sweaty and uncomfortable nights. However, in recent years blue gel beads have been introduced to memory foam mattresses to dissipate the heat. Memory foam mattresses now offer fantastic comfort and are good for people with hip or joint problems.
  • Box spring  – Most of the older generation are well acquainted with box spring mattresses, as they pathed the way to modern mattresses. These mattresses contain, you guessed it, springs. There are two types of spring systems, Bonnell springs, where all of the springs are linked and operate together to provide support. And then there are pocket springs where each individual spring is encased on its own and operates in isolation from the other springs. Spring systems tend to transfer motion, so if two people sleep on the same bed they can feel when one or the other moves in their sleep.
  • Latex – Mostly made from synthetic latex, these mattresses are quite bouncy. You are not likely to sink into a latex mattress either. They offer good support and are great for elderly people, as the latex causes less stress on the body while you sleep.
  • Hybrid – As the name suggests, hybrid mattresses combine mattress technologies to create highly supportive, yet super comfy mattresses. They often contain pocket springs as part of the supportive base, followed by layers of latex and/or memory foam to give you a comfortable night’s rest.

A couple of tips, based on frequently asked questions.

  1. Bamboo mattresses are not made up entirely of bamboo. The material that forms the covering of the mattress contains bamboo fibres, which help to make the mattress hypoallergenic. Nowadays, most beds are treated in some way or another to make them hypoallergenic.
  2. When you buy a new mattress, it might not be perfectly comfortable the first time you use it. Like a pair of new shoes, a new mattress must be “worn in” before it performs at its best.
  3. Try to spread your body weight evenly across the mattress when you use it. For instance, if you sit and read or watch series in bed, sit in the middle of the mattress (for double beds), or on the side where you don’t normally lie when you sleep. This will increase the longevity of the mattress.

2. Size: mattress & bed size chart

Sandy: The chart below depicts standard bed sizes in South Africa. On top of the normal single to king-sized beds, you also get extra-length beds. These beds are the same width as standard bed sizes, but they are 200 cm long, instead of 188 cm like standard mattresses. If you or your partner are 1.8 m tall (or taller), you might want to consider getting an extra-length bed. This should definitely help you to get in those much-needed zZz’s.

Interestingly, if you are in the hospitality industry and you want to get a 5-star rating, you must offer your guests extra-length beds.

Bed Sizes Dimensions in South Africa

Standard bed sizes in South Africa. You also get an extra-length king-sized bed.

Keep in mind that the size of your bedroom might limit the size of your bed. Ideally, you want at least a meter of space around the sides and foot of your bed. So if your bedroom is 2 m by 2 m, an extra-length king-size bed might not be your best option.

 3. Mattress firmness

Sandy: Mattress firmness, or the comfort rating of a mattress, is generally measured on a scale from 1 to 5. Alternatively, from plush (soft) to firm (hard). Also associated with the comfort rating of a mattress are the terms “support” and “comfort”. These are both integral parts of a mattress and should not be confused with each other. The mattress support comes from the core of the mattress, whereas the comfort comes from the combination of layers towards the top of the mattress. Hard mattresses can be extremely supportive and lack comfort, whereas soft mattresses can be the opposite.

  • Plush | Firmness Scale 5 – Soft mattresses are a good choice for people who sleep on their sides or backs. Especially if you don’t want too much pressure on your back. If you sleep on your stomach, avoid soft mattresses like the plague because they will cause back pain.
  • Medium | Firmness Scale 2-4 – Medium mattresses are great all-round mattresses. Soft enough for side sleepers and, in most cases firm enough for stomach sleepers, they are great for the hospitality industry and guest bedrooms. If you and your partner have different sleeping styles, a medium mattress might be better for you both.
  • Firm | Firmness Scale 1 – These mattresses are hard. They are great for stomach sleepers and for back sleepers that don’t have aches and pain in their back. Firm mattresses are generally better for heavyset people – check out the iDream range by Restonic for some supportive, firm beds.

There is a common misconception that people with back pain should always sleep on firm mattresses. This is not necessarily the case. Soft mattresses can often provide incredible support for people with back pain. However, if you have back pain, ask your medical practitioner which type of mattress to get for your particular ailment.

4. Sleep position & weight

Sandy: We’ve already touched on this a bit when we discussed the mattress comfort ratings above. But let’s take a closer look at how you sleep, what your build is like, and how this influences the process when you are buying a bed. There are basically four sleeping positions, with variations on the theme, of course. And for each of these sleeping styles, there is a mattress type that best suits that style.

  • Back sleepers – If you sleep on your back, a plush to medium foam type mattress would probably be your best option. These mattresses will contour to your body and offer optimum comfort throughout the night while keeping your spinal alignment straight.
  • Side sleepers  – Sleeping on your side means that your shoulders and hips will form big indentations in the mattress (bigger than back and stomach sleepers). So you want a mattress that can accommodate those pressure areas without causing discomfort while keeping your spine aligned. Soft mattresses are generally the most comfortable for side sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers – You don’t want a soft mattress, because your hips will sink into the mattress, which will cause your spine to curve unnaturally forward. This is a sure path to chronic back pain. Instead, opt for a medium to firm mattress that can support your hips and keep your spine straight. We suggest you get a box spring mattress or a hybrid mattress with a comforting foam top. Check out the Sealy Hybrid range.
  • Combination sleepers – As the name suggests, you sleep in various positions throughout the night. You are most likely a restless sleeper and if you sleep with a partner, it might drive them nuts! Your best option would be to go for a medium comfort complete foam mattress because foam mattresses absorb movement and allow for very little to no movement transfer.

How does your weight affect the type of mattress you should sleep on?

Sandy: If you are big-boned, a firm mattress that offers ample support is your best bet. Check out the Cloud Nine Legend range, which has a carrying capacity of up to 160 kg per side.

Buying a bed at The Mattress Warehouse

Now that you have all the tools and know-how, you should feel comfortable and confident to buy a bed online. So why don’t you head on over to our online catalogue where we stock a wide variety of mattresses and beds for sale.  The great thing about buying a bed from us is that you can test it out for up to 100 days and if you are not satisfied, you can return the mattress and get your money back. But that won’t be necessary, because after reading this article, you are a bed buying pro.

About Sandy

Sandy has been with The Mattress Warehouse for 8 years. She manages the brand’s Pretoria Branch and is expertly knowledgeable about the bedroom products on offer. Sandy and her staff believe that everyone deserves quality sleep. She’s happy to work with a customer to find the bed or mattress they need. If anyone can help guide you to the right bed, it’s her.

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