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We don’t need to buy a mattress every other day. But when we do need to get rid of the old, saggy, uncomfortable mattress and get a new bed, the sheer number of options out there can be overwhelming. Even until ten years ago, there weren’t so many different varieties of mattresses known to man. But today, sleep is a whole industry, with so many different kinds of beds and pillows available that the ordinary person could well feel lost.
There are mattresses made of various materials, from memory foam to latex, and come with different technologies to regulate temperature, minimize sinkage, and contour to the shape of the body. But what does one do when they need a basic, simple mattress to sleep on, instead of something fancy that costs a bomb?
A mattress is supposed to last a long time, at least 10 years and sometimes as long as 25 years or more. But mattresses don’t come cheap, even if you have to buy them once every 10 years. With all the fancy beds available today, most people tend to assume that mattresses aren’t priced lower than $1000. It couldn’t be farther than the truth. Mattresses begin as low as $200, and most of them are capable of providing you with the comfortable sleep you desire. Maybe you don’t have the budget or simply don’t want to spend a ton of money on a mattress with features you don’t require, but it is completely possible to find a high-quality bed under $500. Later, you can always upgrade to a more expensive mattress, if need be.
What are the Different Types Of Mattresses?
The mattress industry has exploded over the last few years. They vary in materials, construction, as well as additional features. When you head to a bedding store to buy a new mattress, there are all chances of getting confused as the SA explains the difference between one type and the next. Whether you are buying a mattress for the first time or want to replace your existing one, it helps to know the different types of mattresses well in advance.
Some of the most common types of mattresses available today are:
Memory Foam Mattress
The most popular material for mattresses, memory foam, offers support and comfort, and the different layers ensure the mattress doesn’t sag in the middle. Memory foam is best known for its ability to conform to the shape of your body to provide the maximum support to your hips, spine, and back.
Gel Infused Mattresses
Although the gel isn’t what the entire mattress is made of, many memory foam mattresses have a cooling layer made of gel, because it helps dissipate body heat effectively. Because memory foam tends to trap body heat and make the sleeper hot, the addition of a gel layer reduces the heat-trapping abilities of the mattress and makes it better suited for people who sleep hot. Ordinary memory foam mattresses, when given a gel cooling layer, tend to become more expensive. Also, the gel feels weird, so you should test it out first to check if you like the feel.
Mattresses that use springs or coils for internal support are called innerspring. A higher number of coils means better support and conformity to the body shape. Although innerspring mattresses provide ample support and comfort, they usually have a lot of bounce that can be annoying to some.
Latex mattresses are of two types: synthetic latex foam and natural latex. Synthetic latex usually has little natural latex in it, but completely natural latex is more expensive, even though it’s also more comfortable. Latex has better cooling properties compared to memory foam, and the varying levels of firmness are suitable for different people.
Pillow Top Mattress
The top layer of a mattress determines how soft or comfortable it feels. Basically, a gel and a pillow top do the same thing, and that makes the mattress feel softer. A pillow top mattress is preferred by those who do not like the feel of a gel. Some mattresses come with a pillow top, but they can also be added separately to any mattress. If you like the soft cushiony sinking feeling in a mattress, then you can buy a pillow top mattress or add a pillow top separately.
Air mattresses have a chamber padded with foam or fiber and filled with air. The air is what gives firmness and support to the mattress. Air beds have adjustable firmness, so you can fill the mattress with air depending on the firmness that you need. Some mattresses have two separate chambers that can be adjusted separately, best for couples who have different firmness requirements.
This is much like an air bed, only filled with water. A waterbed has a chamber padded with foam or fiber and filled with water. In some mattresses, the water is free flowing and moves from one end to the other. In others, the water is “waveless,” with the fiber limiting the movement. The former has more flexibility, while the latter has more support and firmness. Waterbeds are generally soothing for those who sleep hot or those who suffer from a sore back.
Some mattresses come with an adjustable base. This base can be inclined and reclined either with a remote or mechanically. Adjustable bases are also available separately and are compatible with most modern mattresses. They also fit most bed frames. Simply put your mattress on the adjustable base, and incline or recline different parts of the bed to suit your comfort.
How to Choose A Quality Mattress?
Knowing the different types of mattresses available makes your task a little bit easier, but it does not end there. You also have to keep in mind firmness levels, your (and your partner’s) sleeping position, your budget, and the lifespan of the mattress. Choosing a mattress is a very personal decision because your comfort and your sleep quality depend on it. The wrong mattress is not only a waste of money but also has the potential to give you aches and pains in different parts of your anatomy. In fact, one of the biggest causes of back and shoulder pain is an uncomfortable mattress. That is why before making a purchase it is important to consider a few factors.
We have already looked at the different materials that a mattress can be made of. But aside from that, the following five factors also important when buying a new mattress.
Firmness Level: Two mattresses made from the same material can offer two different firmness levels. This is usually because of the construction. To put it simply, there are three basic types of firmness levels in a mattress: firm, medium and soft. However, the categorization used by most mattress brands makes it confusing for the customer to be able to make the right choice. Some use a scale of 1 to 10 to measure firmness, but the scale is usually too broad to know where your own preference would fit. Some brands have a one-size-fits-all firmness, which might make your choice easier but it may not be what you desire. Some companies even use very confusing terms like “relaxed firmness.”
A lot of things go in determining the firmness of a mattress. If you are on the heavier side, you need a mattress that’s firm to avoid sinkage. Side sleepers prefer a softer mattress because it conforms to the natural curve of the body. Stomach sleepers should choose a firm mattress because it supports the spine, while back sleepers can choose any firmness level that feels comfortable and keeps the spine aligned. To choose the proper firmness level of a mattress, it is best to shop from a store where you are able to test the bed before purchase. When shopping online, customer reviews must be checked to find out who the mattress is best suitable for.
Lifespan: The more use you put the mattress to, the sooner it will wear out. A high-quality mattress usually has a lifespan of at least 10 years, but it also depends on the materials and the construction. If you’ve had a mattress for over 10 years, you will notice the obvious signs of wear, which includes poor support, sagging, and greater sinkage. An old mattress can also cause aches and pains because of improper alignment. Latex has the longest lifespan, well above 10 years. It is followed closely by memory foam and hybrid mattresses, which also last close to 10 years. Innerspring mattresses have a much shorter lifespan of a little over 5 years. This is because the coils wear out quickly.
All mattresses have a specific lifespan beyond which day should not be used. What you should consider when buying a mattress is the materials and construction that offer a better lifespan than others.
Budget: If you have all the money in the world you can obviously buy just any mattress that you want. But mattresses can be very expensive, and the price is often one of the deciding factors. In this post, we are talking about mattresses under $500. When buying a new mattress, you should have a set budget and try to find the best quality within that range, because as the overwhelming number of choices will only lead you to keep increasing your budget if you are not careful.
Sleeping Preference and Physical Condition: If you suffer from any physical condition like arthritis, osteoporosis, or chronic pains, and cannot afford to invest in an orthopedic mattress, your next best option is a quality memory foam or latex mattress because they contour to the natural curve of your body and provide the best alignment and support. You may also get an adjustable base for your existing mattress if it isn’t out of shape yet. If you sleep hot, gel memory foam or latex mattress is the best options. Memory foam, without a cooling layer, can trap in body heat and make you hotter during the night.
If you or your partner tosses and turns through the night, you will need a mattress with good motion isolation. Innerspring mattresses have the best motion isolation because of the pocketed coils, but they can also get uncomfortable to the person that tosses and turns. In that regard, if you and your partner have different sleeping preferences, one of the best options is an air bed with dual chambers because each side can be customized independently. You can also try an online mattress company that takes yours and your partner’s inputs and creates a mattress with two customized sides. If you are allergic, memory foam or latex on the best options because they are hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and dust and mold resistant.
Return policy and Warranty: Aside from the pricing of the mattress what you should also be concerned about is the return policy and the warranty. Most online manufacturers offer a trial period of a few weeks, within which you can return the mattress for a full refund if it does not suit your preferences. Mattresses usually do not have a return option beyond the trial period. As for the warranty, some manufacturers offer a warranty as short as three years whereas others offer a lifetime warranty of 25 years or more. It all depends on the manufacturer.
Having looked at the types of mattresses and the factors to consider before purchase, let’s now talk about the top five mattresses available for under $500.
Top 5 Mattresses Under $500
Ever since Lucid launched in 2016, it has produced some affordable mattresses and adjustable bed frames. Although not all of their products are of the highest quality, their 10-inch Bamboo Charcoal and Aloe Vera hybrid mattress is one of the best that the company has ever made. A hybrid mattress is usually made of memory foam or latex but also has inner springs or pocketed coils for added support. The Lucid hybrid mattress is made up of a 1.5-inch memory foam layer that’s been infused with bamboo charcoal. The next layer is the one-inch of Aloe Vera infused transition foam, and the next layer is the one-inch of foam supported by 5.5-inch tall pocket coils. The bottom layer is also one inch of support foam.
Innerspring mattresses have a certain bounce, but they are also great at providing support and isolating motion. The mattress has a medium firm feel, while the Aloe Vera helps maintain freshness for the longest time. The Lucid hybrid mattress retails for $499, but on sites like Amazon and Overstock, you can get it for as low as $350. There are a couple of downsides, though. Lucid offers only a 30-night sleep trial, so you have to decide fast whether you want to keep or return it. There’s also not a lot of information regarding the density of the foam and the durability, so you have to rely on customer reviews to be able to decide.
- 10-year warranty
- Hypoallergenic and antimicrobial
- Minimal off-gassing
- Medium firm feel
- Pocket coils for better support
- Only 30-night sleep trial
- No details about the foam used
If you sleep hot, you need a mattress that is great at regulating body heat and keeping your cool through the night. The Cypress Bamboo gel mattress by Brentwood Home is one of the most affordable mattresses that is adept at keeping your cool throughout the night. The mattress comes in two varieties: an 11-inch medium firm feel, and a 13-inch medium feel. The former has 2.5 inches of gel infused memory foam and 6.5 inches of support foam. If you are generally a back or stomach sleeper but sometimes sleep on your side, the 11-inch variety is right for you. The latter has 3.5 inches of gel infused memory foam and 7.5 inches of support foam, providing better support, pressure relief, and softness. It’s great for all types of sleepers as well as those with different preferences from their partner’s.
This eco-friendly, antimicrobial mattress is handmade in California with CertiPUR-US® foam. The best thing about Brentwood Home is that they offer a sleep trial of full one year, even on budget mattresses such as this. Made from all-natural materials, the Cypress Bamboo Gel mattress is great at keeping away heat and providing comfort throughout the year. The downsides are that the mattress has a lot of off-gassing and lacks edge support.
- Healthy materials
- One-year sleep trial
- Easy return and refund
- Available in two varieties
- Cooling properties
- Poor edge support
This is another hybrid mattress under $500 that combines softness and pressure relief. This 10-inch mattress has a 0.5-inch high-density foam, along with 1.5-inch support foam and 7.5 inches of pocketed coils. The outer cover is made from knitted jacquard fabric. This mattress is specially designed for pressure relief, ideal for those who suffer from aches and pains. While the foam contours to the curves of your body and helps in alignment and pressure relief, the pocketed springs provide the necessary support and firmness. The top cover is microfiber fill for added coziness.
Aside from the affordability, pressure relief, support, and the balance of furnace and softness, the Zinus mattress ships free around the country and has a 100-night sleep trial. The mattress also comes with a 10-year warranty get. However, there is a recurring complaint about this mattress, and that is excessive sagging, loss of shape and support within the first three years. This puts a big question mark on the durability of the mattress, although there are a lot of positive reviews about the product.
- Good pressure relief and support
- Available in two thickness types
- 100-night sleep trial
- 10-year warranty
- Loss of support and shape within the first three years of use
This 11-inch all foam mattress is made of three layers: 3-inch Energex™ Cooling Comfort layer, 2-inch SmartFlow Air Flow foam layer, and a 6-inch high-density Edge Support Base Foam. The mattress has a medium feel with decent bounce and also a soft cover. The Love & Sleep mattress provides good value at under $500 and also has good pressure relief and support. Because of the cooling comfort layer, the mattress has the ability to regulate body heat and keep the sleeper cool. It also has great motion isolation and is ideal for those who share the bed with a partner.
- Good for back and stomach sleepers
- Great cooling and motion isolation
- 100-night sleep trial
- Free shipping and returns
- Lifetime warranty
- Not great for side sleepers
Modway is basically a furniture manufacturer, but they also produce quality mattresses in an affordable price range. This one is a 12-inch hybrid mattress made of pocket coils and foam. The top has a quilted cover, followed by 0.75-inch gel-infused memory foam layer. The gel is what helps in keeping the mattress cool because memory foam is known to trap heat. The next two layers are 2-inch memory foam and one-inch responsive foam. The final two layers are 6.25 inches of pocketed coils and one-inch responsive foam. The dense foam layer on top creates a balance with the pocket coils, resulting in a mattress that’s firm and supportive. Although this is a heavy mattress, it certainly offers great value for money.
- Good for all types of sleepers
- No sinkage or motion transfer
Given all these different affordable mattresses, it is safe to conclude that finding a quality mattress under $500 isn’t too difficult. If you know what you want and perform thorough research before purchase, you can end up with the right mattress even within a tight budget.