How to buy a mattress in the Memorial Day sales: 5 expert shopping tips

A man in a blue shirt goes mattress shopping
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Holiday sales are alluring, and it can be tempting to impulsively click 'buy' on the first bargain you see. When it comes to buying a new mattress, it pays to be a bit more strategic, so you don't end up with a purchase you regret. The Memorial Day mattress sales are in full swing, and there are lots of excellent deals to choose from, from money-off discounts to hundreds of dollars' worth of free bedding thrown in to sweeten the deal. As a professional mattress reviewer who has tested an array of beds and covered loads of sales, I have some pro tips to help you find a truly great deal.

You'll need to look beyond the colorful sale banners and enticing marketing language to make sure it's actually an offer worth taking advantage of. Sales happen all year round in the mattress world, and some offers aren't quite as good as they seem. And of course, you also want to be absolutely sure you're choosing the best mattress for your sleep needs, body type and budget. So if you need assistance navigating all these deals, I've got your back.

Below are my expert shopping tips to help you pick up a comfy new mattress for less when browsing this year's Memorial Day sales. Let's go shopping...

1. Know what you need from a mattress

You could find a supreme bargain on the best mattress in a box, but it'll be a waste of time if it ends up being the wrong type for your body and sleep preferences. 

Do you primarily sleep on your side? Then narrow your search to the best mattresses for side sleepers for optimal pressure relief along your hips, shoulders and knees in this position. If you struggle with overheating at night, you might want to invest in a specialist cooling mattress

To ensure you're buying a mattress well-suited to your build and body weight, you'll also want to take firmness into consideration. Here's a brief rundown of the criteria to keep in mind when browsing the mattress sales...

Side sleepers can get away with a slightly softer mattress (so medium to medium-firm). This allows the shoulders and hips to sink in slightly, relieving potential pressure buildup in those areas while still keeping the spine correctly aligned.

Back / stomach sleepers should look for a firmer mattress (medium-firm to firm) in order to keep the spine properly supported in these positions and prevent the hips from dropping too low.

Combi-sleepers who change position in the night want something that works for any position, so medium-firm is probably the best bet for you.

Young man asleep

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Sleepers under 130lbs will benefit from a softer mattress (so within the range that works for your sleep style, err toward the softer end) and often get on well with the cushioning hug of dense memory foam. A bed that's too firm won't contour to your shape and provide comfortable support. 

Sleepers above 230lbs should look for a firm mattress with sufficient support for the back, shoulders, and hips. Anything softer will give too much, and you can end up sinking through the cushioning layers and ending up pressing on an uncomfortable lower level. Some hybrid and latex-based mattresses are specifically made with larger sleepers in mind – you'll find them in our guide to the best mattress for heavy people.

2. Buy a mattress that comes with a trial period

Risk-free at-home mattress trials are now standard practice among leading sleep brands. The minimum length of these trial periods is 100 nights, but many brands now offer 200 nights. Some companies, such as Nectar, Saatva and WinkBeds, offer 365-night trials. This is ideal for knowing how a mattress performs across all seasons, especially during hot weather.

What happens if you're not happy with your new mattress? If you choose to return it before the trial period ends, the brand will issue a full refund. In many cases, the company will haul away your mattress at no charge. However some brands will charge a fee for this, so do double-check.

Also note that brands often enforce a minimum of 30 nights before enabling you to start the returns process. Why? Because it takes around 21 days for your body to get used to a new mattress — and companies want to be sure you give it a fair chance rather than dismiss it during the early breaking-in period. Even the best cheap mattresses come on a trial period, so budget is no barrier to having proper testing time at home.

3. Study the mattress warranty carefully

The length of warranties vary across bed-in-a-box brands, ranging from five years to a forever warranty. The longer the warranty period, the more trust a brand has in the integrity of its product (which is good news for you). Being aware of how long your mattress will be covered is important, but understanding how mattress warranties work will save you hassle should anything go wrong years down the line. 

Generally speaking, most brands offer protection against manufacturer defects — for instance premature sagging, undone seams, and coils protruding through the surface. Beyond that, it'll depend on the individual brand, so read the terms with a fine-toothed comb before you buy. 

Knowing how to clean a mattress and properly care for it will also prevent any headaches if you'll need to activate your warranty for any reason. For example, your warranty will be voided if your mattress has obvious stains or spills, so investing in one of the best mattress protectors will help keep it safe. 

A couple test a mattress to see if it works for their bodies and sleep needs

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Read user reviews — the good and the bad

It's sound practice to browse user reviews from verified buyers upon making a large purchase – and that certainly includes mattresses. I do this when reviewing mattresses (its an important part of our mattress testing methodology) as insightful user reviews give you an idea of how the mattress performs in the long-term.

Browsing user reviews also gives you a sense of how a mattress feels for different types of sleepers and body types. So these are an opportunity to learn from the experiences of sleepers with needs similar to yours, especially if you're dealing with issues such as back pain or snoring.

Don't just stick to the glowing 5-star feedback or the 1-star rants either, as most people's experiences will be somewhere in the middle (2-, 3-, and 4-star reviews). User reviews will also paint a picture the quality of customer service a brand offers, and that way you'll know what type of response to expect when it comes to any issues during (or after) your trial. 

5. Check the price history

Sales offer plenty of opportunity to save money, particularly when it comes to older stock (summertime is when brands tend to roll out new and more expensive models.) But while the volume of Memorial Day mattress deals is on par with what we see during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the quality of discounts may be slightly lower than during those major shopping holidays. 

That's due to companies raising the retail price after the winter holidays. So even if a brand's Memorial Day discount matches a Cyber Monday promotion, the sale price now might be higher now than it was in late November due to inflation pushing up the listing price. That said, there are some good deals to be found this weekend and we'll be sharing only the top offers to save you the most on great new beds.

Some mattresses offer free premium bedding too, but if the included bedding isn't to your taste, browse the best bedding sales for discounts on sheet sets, duvets, weighted blankets, pillows and more.

Early Memorial Day deals to shop now

Alison Barretta
Freelance reviewer and writer

Freelance writer and editor Alison is an expert mattress tester for Tom's Guide, and hails from Philadelphia, USA. Alison has reviewed a wide range of mattresses, pillows and other sleep accessories for Tom's Guide, putting the latest hybrid, memory foam and cooling mattresses from Casper, Nectar, Awara, Brooklinen and other leading brands through their paces. Alison has been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't reviewing mattresses, other home products or hunting for great deals to save you money, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking.

With contributions from