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Mattress Myths
Don't Buy a Bed Based on Misleading Info

Last updated on June 22, 2022

You've heard them from salespeople, from friends, on Facebook--mattress 'information' meant to scare you, dazzle you, or otherwise prompt you to buy their mattress pronto.

These myths are not only inaccurate; they can steer you to make a poor choice. Mattress-buying is personal, so whenever you hear absolutes like "all memory foam makes you overheat" or "your mattress needs replacing every 8 years" (like it has an expiration date), you know they're probably bunk, or at least misleading.

Mattress Myths, Debunked

All mattresses are the same

This is probably the number one mattress myth, but many consumers simply refuse to believe it. Would you assume that all blue jeans will fit the same because they are all made of denim? While mattresses look similar on the outside, they vary enormously on the inside, and that's where it counts. These differences allow them to be a better or worse fit for your own needs and preferences.

This myth has been propagated by the new online mattress brands who promise to 'simplify' mattress shopping by selling only one model. In fact, Casper's early marketing touted "one mattress for all."

The truth? The opposite is true. No one mattress model will be the best choice for both a 120-lb. side sleeper that needs great edge support and a 250-lb. stomach sleeper that needs the best motion isolation.

The best way to hone in on a mattress that will meet your specific needs? Take our Mattress Match Quiz.

More coils are better

You might have heard a rumor that the more coils in a mattress core, the more supportive the mattress will be. These days the construction of the coils is a much more important factor in determining the overall comfort and support of the mattress. See our Mattress Coil Guide

Buying a mattress online saves you thousands

It sounds like solid logic: Stores that sell mattresses online directly to customers save you lots of cash by cutting out the middle man. However, the online brand usually IS the middle man. Most online brands don't actually make their own mattresses. Rather, they are made by third party companies to the brand's specifications. So the mattress brand and websites have essentially taken the role of a store/salesperson.

Some online brands do manufacture what they sell, including Brooklyn Signature, Naturepedic, Spindle, Cocoon (by Sealy) and Brentwood Home, but most outsource the manufacturing.

Buying a mattress is transparent as far as price: The online price is what you pay. The flip side is losing the ability to negotiate with a salesperson. Read more on mattress markups and pricing.

Lots of layers are best for comfort

In an apparent arms race for the most layers, some mattresses are boasting 6, 7, 8 and more layers of foam, latex, quilting, etc., some of which may only be a 1/2-inch thick. In our experience, the number of comfort layers has no direct correlation with comfort and support. And in the case of low quality mattresses, lots of layers of low-density foam can cause problems, inviting premature breakdown and body impressions. The lesson? A mattress with 5 layers of materials isn't necessarily a better mattress for you than one with 3 or 4 layers.

Firm beds are healthier/better for back pain

This one has been perpetuated forever, and probably goes back to the days when mattresses were either hard or saggy with not a lot in between. Modern mattresses are made with more varied and nuanced materials to achieve lots of variations in softness.

Back pain is most frequently caused by the spine not being held in alignment, so the right bed will do that for you. Whether a mattress feels soft and cushy or firmer on the surface is a personal preference.

Your mattress should be replaced every 8 years

Most people end up replacing their mattress every 8 or 10 years, but if your mattress is in good shape and you aren't having any sleep-related issues or pain, it can certainly last longer than that. A mattress can also last less than 8 years -- your body may also need change as you age, etc. Some mattresses are 'renewable' in that the manufacturer will sell you replacement mattress materials to extend your bed's life even longer. The Spindle latex mattress comes to mind in that respect.

In short: Replace your mattress when it no longer provides you with the spinal alignment and pressure relief you need, not on some arbitrary 8-year mark. Read more on Replacing Your Mattress

Long warranty = long mattress life

Some mattress manufacturers now boast 10, 15, 25, and even lifetime warranties. All of these are marketing tactics to prompt you into believing that your mattress will last that long. A warranty can protect you against manufacturing defects like broken springs or extreme breakdown of foam, but there's no benefit for normal wear and tear and the gradual softening that occurs with all mattress materials. Regardless of warranty length, your mattress will need to be replaced when it no longer suits your support and spinal alignment needs.

Mattress Law Label

It's against the law to remove that tag

Called a law label, this is a tag that's required for new mattresses (also pillows) by U.S law. While the tag says "Do not remove under penalty of law," it's unlawful for the retailer to remove the tag -- not you. After all, it's your mattress. Removing the tag could, however, void your warranty, so it's best to leave it be.

Memory foam makes you hot

Memory foam has a reputation for making you sleep hot. However, any foam mattress can potentially feel warm, especially if its comfort layers allow you to sink deeply into the bed, meaning less of your body is exposed to the air. Some memory foam beds allow you to sink deeply, and some don't. If 'sleeping hot' is a known issue for you, a firmer and less deeply cushioned bed is probably the way to go.

Manufacturers of memory foam beds have also added features to improve air flow and conduct heat from the body. But there is nothing inherent in the memory foam itself that would make you sleep hot compared to another type of foam bed.

If you don't buy the matching foundation, you'll void your warranty

This is another shady salesperson gimmick. It's true that your mattress needs to rest on a sturdy and suitable surface (platform bed, box foundation, adjustable base, or even the floor) for the warranty to be valid, but these days, you are generally not required to buy a matching foundation from the same brand. Your warranty will include details on the best kinds of foundations for your mattress.

You can't sleep on latex if you're allergic

As a preface here, we want to remind you that we are not medical experts. That said, what we are told by experts is that for people who suffer from a contact allergy to latex (the most common type of latex allergy), there should be no problem sleeping on a latex mattress.  There are two reasons for this. First, when sleeping on a latex mattress, there is a lot of other material between your skin and the latex -- your sheets, a protector, the mattress cover, a fire sock, and possibly even other layers of padding. As such, the likelihood of inadvertent direct contact with the latex is negligible. Second, what triggers most latex allergies are the proteins from rubber sap, which actually get washed off during the process used to turn that rubber sap into the latex foam used in mattresses. Notwithstanding this, a more conservative option would be synthetic latex, which doesn't have these proteins at all.

All that said though, it's always worth a call to your doctor if you are concerned.  And of course, those with very severe or life-threatening latex allergies should certainly choose a mattress that does not contain latex.

Dust Mites

Mattresses double in weight in 10 years because of dust mites

This creepy assertion has become so widespread that salespeople and media outlets frequently repeat it as general knowledge. The truth is that this assertion has been debunked, and seems to have originated from a misinterpreted interview from nearly two decades ago.

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