Making sure your bed can live up to your specific needs is critical.

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Sourcing a mattress that meets your individual needs doesn't have to be difficult, so long as you know what you are looking for. For example, do you suffer from night sweats or experience chronic pain and need specific areas of cushion? Identifying which features are important to you—before you start looking—can make the process of selecting a new mattress much simpler. Ahead, how to streamline this task and establish a comfortable, supportive bed.

Identify your biggest overnight priority.

Dr. Kaliq Chang, a spine and neck interventional pain management specialist with Atlantic Spine Center, says that shoppers with back or neck pain should focus on mattresses that will ease those aches (you need an option that is soft enough to conform to your body, but firm enough to maintain the natural curvature of the spine, he adds). If you frequently suffer from night sweats, on the other hand, a super-soft mattress may exacerbate your issues (and retain moisture). Identifying your overnight needs and concerns ahead of your shopping trip will lead to a better outcome.

Don't choose a too-soft mattress.

If your idea of the perfect night's sleep involves a cloud-like mattress, you may benefit from a softer iteration, or one with a fluffy topper. A too-soft option, however, can be problematic; when you shop, ensure that you don't sink too far into your new bed. "If a soft mattress results in the shopper sinking into a bent position, this will lead to long term problems," explains Dr. Chang. Try Layla's offerings (from $599, laylasleep.com) if you prefer a soft, but sturdy bed.

Choose an option designed for chronic pain suffers.

Selecting a mattress that will keep your spine in a neutral position is the best way to improve back or neck pain, says Dr. Chang, who advises using pillows underneath the knees (during back sleeping) or between them (for side sleepers) for additional support. Those who suffer from these types of aches should never sleep on their stomach, he says; it's important to look for mattresses that offer supportive coils or pockets in their design, which better aid the former two sleeping positions. This option from Nectar (from $499, nectarsleep.com) is best for side sleepers and alleviates chronic discomfort.

If your partner tosses and turns, select a foam option.

Sometimes the problem isn't the mattress—it's the nighttime activity of the person in bed next to you. "Shoppers with a partner that tosses and turns should invest in a mattress that will absorb that movement and not transmit the movement to the other side," Dr. Chang says. Mattresses made of foam, or that feature a lot of foam components—like Serta's "Perfect Sleep" Hybrid Mattress ($799, wayfair.com)—are best suited for this situation, he adds.

Shop in person whenever possible.

A mattress is something you should try before you buy, says Dr. Chang. "You should go to a store where you can rest on the actual mattress you are considering buying," he explains. While a mattress you buy online might be listed as firm or soft, it may not match your interpretation of those terms—the only way to be sure is to give it a test.

Double check the return policy.

We spend a lot of time (229,961 hours on average, in fact!) in bed, which makes selecting the correct mattress absolutely necessary; choose wrong, and your health can suffer. Mistakes, however, happen—which is why you should always purchase a mattress with an air-tight return policy, especially if you're shopping online. "Don't hesitate to return the mattress if is causing sleepless nights or increased pain in the mornings," Dr. Chang says. Luckily, most veritable online mattress companies offer generous sleep trials and return windows, so you can ensure your bed feels just right.

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