Learning Center

How To Buy A Mattress

  • The best mattresses are made by smaller companies that focus on excellence, not giant brands that focus on marketing.
  • It’s what’s inside (the quality of the inner components) that counts most.
  • The more natural the better. A natural mattress isn’t just healthier, it’s also just a better mattress: more comfortable, longer lasting, better air movement.
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into a decision. Resist bogus “sales" and "buy today" offers. Good people selling good products don't need pressure tactics.


Relax. Mattresses are pretty simple. There’s no reason you should be confused when buying one. You can make the right decision using your common sense and a few guiding principles.

We’ve tested hundreds of different models from dozens of different mattress brands over the past thirty years. We've sold thousands of mattresses to local people here in Western Mass and listened to their feedback. Here is what we've learned.

1. Great Mattresses Are Like Great Food- It's The Quality of The Ingredients That Matters Most

McDonalds might sell the most hamburgers but few would argue they make the best hamburgers. Being widely known in the mass market doesn't equate with being high quality. Big Brands economize on materials and labor- then channel the money saved into advertising to grow market share.

A great product is the sweet spot where good design, quality materials, and value pricing all come together. We've learned that the best mattresses are made by smaller companies-who focus on excellence instead of growth.

Out of sight out of mind.

Almost all mattresses (except those by Berkeley Ergonomics) are sealed "black boxes" hiding their inner workings from the buyer. Industry executives know it's more profitable to spend on expensive looking outer fabric and social media campaigns than thicker coil wire, better foam, or higher density padding.

No wonder they don't want you to look inside.
Shown in the photo below is a Pillowtop mattress by a Big Brand. Even though it cost $3000- it essentially failed after three years of use and developed deep body impressions.

No surprise really. Mattresses this thick (15") are puffed up with air and usually lack substance. Cutting it open reveals only a basic 6"innerspring unit and 9" of cheap polyurethane foam.

A Few Hundred Dollars Worth of Mediocre Components and Millions in Advertising Create a Mattress that Can Sell for $3000

Factory Direct sounds impressive and promises to deliver value. But online advertising costs are becoming sky high ($20-$30 per click for the keyword "mattress"). When the choice is between quality components and marketing costs it's pretty obvious which one wins out.

Not Much to Look at but this Factory Direct Mattress Sells for $1400

2. Natural Mattresses Are Better

Leaving aside health concerns related to synthetic materials, real-life experience proves that natural mattresses just perform better. Besides being healthier, a natural mattresses is just a better mattress. It's more comfortable, it breathes best and it lasts longer.

  • Cotton Outer Liners allow better air circulation and sleep cooler than polyester or chemical gel.
  • Real latex rubber provides better cushioning and lasts longer than foam (polyurethane, memory or gel).
  • Tightly felted wool meets federal fire regulations while simultaneously regulating body temperature and repelling dust mites.

A Gorgeous Natural Mattress by Berkeley Ergonomics. Organic Cotton, Pure Latex Rubber, Wool, and Three Layers of European Coils on a Flexible Wooden Base

Why Aren't All Mattresses Natural?

The reason all mattresses do not use natural materials is cost. Polyurethane Foam, memory foam, gel foam, and polyester padding are much cheaper than the natural ingredients they mimic.

It's not fair and it's not right but Big Brands can charge the same (or even more) than natural mattress companies for a worse product. The power of marketing combined with the "black box" nature of mattresses allows them to get away with it. The big get bigger as they reinvest excess profits into more and more "brand building" which allows them to justify ever-higher prices.

3. Try It Before You Buy It. Hopefully More Than Once

An ever increasing number of shoppers in our store are replacing almost new online mattresses. With no opportunity to lie on (or even touch) a variety of different models before clicking the Buy Button, they discover too late:

  • They keep waking up because the "feel" is wrong
  • It's just not comfortable- either too hard or too soft
  • They sleep "hot" because the mattress doesn't breath well
  • They have a negative reaction to the chemical foam (polyurethane, memory or gel) smell or off-gassing

After a frustrating trial period even those who are able to return their purchase (another hassle) regret wasting time and energy on a failure.

Foam Mattresses

Most online mattresses are 100% foam- the cheapest to produce and easiest to roll-up for UPS shipping. (Side note: Even mattresses advertised as "latex" usually only contain a one or two inch layer of latex glued to a six inch foam base.)

Due to their inexpensive production costs, foam mattresses have a deserved place in the lower-end mattress market. We offer a selection here at Fly By Night. See a sample below.

Without the Marketing Costs Foam Mattresses Are A Good Deal. A Fly By Night Queen Size sells for $700-$1100

Growing Big On Big Profits

But many online mattress sellers over-promise and over-price. Below are interior shots of foam mattresses by Purple and Casper. Their queen size mattresses range from $1300-$3300.

Purple Mattress (a Utah based 2016 startup) was recently sold for $1.1 Billion. A queen size Purple sells for $1700-$3300

Venture Capitalists recently took Casper over for $300 Million. A queen size mattress sells for $1300-$2800


When you're shopping for a mattress think of great food and remember "it's the quality of the ingredients that matters most".

  • The Giant Brands spend their energy and money on marketing. The best mattresses are made by smaller companies who invest in mattress components instead of advertising.
  • Natural materials are superior to synthetics. A natural mattress isn't just healthier, its also better- more comfortable, better air movement and more durable. If the price is the similar always choose the more natural option.
  • Try it before you buy it. It's tempting to do some online research, press the Buy Button and hope for the best. It's wiser to Invest an hour or two and visit a couple mattress stores to discover what you actually like.

Finally, don't let anyone pressure you into a decision. Resist bogus "one day sales" or "buy now" offers. Take your time to get right with your decision. Good people selling good products don't need pressure tactics.

Share this article: