Money & Career

How Much Should You Really Spend On A Mattress?

Getting some shut-eye needn’t cost a fortune if you ask the right questions.

Woman waking up well-rested

Photo, iStock.

When you woke up this morning, how did you feel? Well-rested and full of energy, or like you’d been tossing and turning all night? You might have your mattress to thank.

A good bed can make all the difference when it comes to sleep quality. (That and hitting the hay without a brain full of worries disturbing your slumber.) Not only is sleep vital for good health, but it even has a financial impact. According to a 2017 report, Canada loses just over 80,000 working days a year due to lack of sleep among those who work. What’s more, poor sleep costs the Canadian economy up to $21.4 billion per year.

Economic impact aside, stumbling through the day in a sleep-deprived haze just feels crummy, so it’s no wonder people are willing to pay big money on a comfortable mattress to help them sleep through the night.

But is that money well spent? If you buy the right mattress, then yes, says Mary Helen Rogers, VP marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council in Alexandria, Va.

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“When it comes to things that have a direct link to your health and wellbeing, that’s where you want to open up your wallet a little bit and spend a little more,” she says.

Exactly how much more isn’t an easy answer, however. While the average overall retail price of a mattress in Canada is a little less than $800, you can pay anywhere from $140 for a flimsy foam mattress to $8,000 for a foam and coil hybrid number with all the bells and whistles.

The good news is that most people can usually get away with paying for a mid-priced mattress, in the $700–$1,800 range, offering everything they need. Pay less and you’ll likely get substandard materials and craftsmanship, which will just mean another trip to the mattress store sooner than later anyway.

Speaking of which, if you’ve heard that you need to replace your mattress every seven to 10 years, that’s a myth. There’s actually no hard-and-fast rule about how regularly a person needs to swap an old mattress out for a new one.

“We don’t say buy a brand new mattress every seven years, but we say evaluate it every seven years,” explains Rogers.

That’s because not only do mattresses eventually wear out — you’ll know it when it happens — but people’s bodies change over time too. A foam mattress that felt great when you were 23 might lead to aches and pains 10 years and two kids later.

Here are a few ways to get the best deal on your mattress the next time you go to buy one.

Shop online

You obviously can’t test-drive mattresses bought online, but you’ll likely save some cash since these sellers don’t have to pay for retail space. Just be sure there’s a good return policy.

Wait for a sale

Mattress retailers charge a healthy markup so they tend to offer frequent sales. It’s not unheard of to get a new mattress at 50 percent off.

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Try haggling

Negotiating at a big box store like Costco or Walmart probably won’t get you anywhere, but dedicated bed stores and mom-and-pop mattress shop employees will usually be willing to haggle over price. Just be sure to do a little online research first so you can tell a good deal from a bad one.

Say no to box springs

If you’ve already got a box spring and it’s in good shape, save yourself $150–$300 and keep the one you have. In many cases, you don’t need it anyway. Because mattresses now tend to be thick and sturdy, a box spring is often just for looks.

Buy right and sleep tight

The best way to save money long-term? Buy the right mattress in the first place.

“A lot of people test mattresses with their butts,” says Rogers. “They sit on it, bounce up and down and rub their hands back and forth on the fabric. Do you sleep on a bare mattress while sitting up? Not likely.”

Instead, take your time. Lie down on your back, stomach and sides for minutes, not seconds. Concentrate on how you feel. And if you’re still not sure if the mattress —and the price — is right for you?

Go ahead and sleep on it.

This post is part of Spend It Better, a personal finance collaboration between Chatelaine and MoneySense about how to get the most for your money. You can find out more right here.