We all sleep. Or at least, we try to. Despite my current financial straits, I recently decided to buy a mattress. When it gets to my apartment, it will be the first real mattress I’ve ever owned since my twenties. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve slept on futons. I prefer to sleep on solid surfaces, and futons have been ideal for me. However, as I’ve gotten older, it’s become clear that I need to sleep on something more stable.

Mattresses may be the biggest investment that we make for ourselves, while understanding what we have purchased, has little to no resale value. Despite mattresses lasting for decades, and having warranties between 5-10 years, you will never make your money back selling your mattress.

Buying a mattress on a budget

No one wants to purchase your potential bed bugs, STIs, or unknown infections. A quick glance on Kijiji or Craigslist will net you a long list of people giving away their mattresses. Some will be honest (indicating stains, etc.), others will beg (I found a listing where the poster informed that they were “clean,” and fully vaccinated). The reality is, despite mattresses being a fairly big ticket item, they’re difficult to get rid of.

Unless it’s substantially expensive new, no one is buying your mattress second-hand. And, if you’re selling an expensive King sized mattress, the purchaser needs a larger truck to take it, limiting the pool of buyers. There’s, again, the concerns of hygiene and disease also slimming the pool of potential purchasers. The reality is, when we spend our hard earned dollars on a mattress, we are making a statement on the value of our sleep. How much do you value a good rest? If there is an investment that we make that research is paramount, but we often neglect to do so, it’s buying a mattress.

To find a good mattress, you probably can get away with spending less than you would expect. If you live in, or near a city, it’s likely that there’s at least one world-class mattress manufacturer near you. You can save by buying local.

This is primarily because of the rise of foam mattresses and pillows. As foam has become a more popular material to use, making mattresses has become astronomically cheaper. Another way to save on your purchase is because of hygiene concerns. If a mattress bag has a hole in it, sellers will often offer to sell it as damaged goods for as much as half its retail value. Just check your local online markets.

So what should you be looking for in your mattress?

Foam mattresses are not for everyone

On a budget, you can’t get a mattress with all the bells and whistles. But there are some things to consider.

You’ll need a box spring for most foam mattresses. No matter their hardness, they’re still made of foam and eventually will sink under your weight. That sinking attribute of foam mattresses also can impact their durability. Not all of us want to sink into our beds. Even if a foam mattress is rated as hard, you have to assume, as it ages, and becomes well used, you’re going to sink into it.

Most of us consider spring loaded mattresses the standard. There are two types of coils used in spring mattresses. The most common are hourglass coils. There are also pocketed coils and continuous coils. Because pocketed coils limit the sensation of movement, they’ve exploded in popularity and expense. The minimum number of coils you want in a budget mattress is around 300. However, ideally, your mattress will have significantly more.

Finally, there are hybrid mattresses. A hybrid mattress can provide the best of both worlds. You can have the stability of a coil mattress with the controlled comfort of a foam mattress. At a lower budget, finding a hybrid mattress will allow you to find a durable, longer lasting, mattress with an ideal level of firmness.

Your perfect bed

Do you get hot when sleeping? Generally, coil mattresses are cooler than foam mattresses that trap heat. Some foam mattress companies use materials like bamboo on their covers to guarantee a cooler surface.

You should also consider how you sleep. Are you a side sleeper? Do you sleep on your back? Do you get back, hip, or shoulder pains when you sleep? These are all things that can be resolved simply by getting the right mattress.

After looking at primarily foam mattresses, I ended up buying a hybrid mattress with hourglass coils and medium firm foam. How I sleep, the firmness I most prefer when sleeping and where I often get sleeping pains meant that, at my price point, a hybrid mattress was my best option.

Initially, I thought the way to go was a foam mattress. There’s a ton of companies out there trying to convince us that the best option is always a foam mattress packed in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. Heck, the modern bed industry is built on bed-in-a-box and bed-in-a-bag products. However, buying one of those products doesn’t work for all of us. A quality sleep is worth more than short term convenience.

When you buy a mattress, you will likely be the last person to sleep on it. Consider it an investment in yourself. It’s not just about buying the most expensive product within your budget. Going to a store, and lying on a mattress will not tell you everything you need to make the right purchase either. Take your time, do your own research and find that perfect mattress for your best sleep. You are worth the effort.