So you’ve finally decided to swap that lumpy old thing you bought right after college for a newer model. And because you’re a grown-ass woman, you’ve decided to invest a decent chunk of your paycheck into your new mattress (and your well-being—we spend a third of our lives sleeping, after all). But finding the perfect padding to lull you into dreamland is anything but sweet. Relax, we’ve got you covered. Here’s your step-by-step guide for how to choose a mattress you’ll love.

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Step 1: Decide on a Type of Mattress

There are lots of different kinds out there with super-confusing terminology (what the heck is polyurethane foam?), but here are three main ones you should know: Innerspring, memory and latex. Innerspring mattresses are made from individually wrapped coils and offer high levels of support and breathability (great for hot sleepers). Memory foam mattresses are made from moldable material that will contour to your shape—perfect for relieving aches but can get pretty warm at night. And latex foam is both breathable and supportive (with a "bounce back" feel), plus it’s hypoallergenic. You can choose one of these types or opt for a hybrid.

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Step 2: Re-think Firmness

Some brands offer a one-size-fits-all firmness level, while others feature a numbered scale or a simple soft, medium and firm option. The key thing to remember is that firmness is highly subjective (what feels rock solid to you might feel like a fluffy cloud to someone else). Plus, a person’s body type, weight and other factors will also play a role. What you want is a mattress that is soft enough to let you sink into it, yet firm enough to support you. How do you find that? Read on.

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Step 3: Take It For a Test-Drive

Awkwardly hopping from bed to bed in-store with a salesman hovering over you isn’t exactly our idea of a fun Saturday afternoon. But trying out your mattress is essential if you want a good night’s slumber. Give yourself 20 minutes per mattress in the store (urgh, sorry) or order online and take advantage of the trial period. (Casper and Helix Sleep let you test yours out for 100 days.)

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Step 4: Check the Warranty

Make sure your new sleeper comes with a decent warranty (ten years or so). And remember to protect said warranty by investing in a mattress protector. Icky stain = no gain.

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Step 5: Sleep, Dream, Repeat

The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every seven to ten years, but if you’re waking up with aches and pains all the time, then it’s time for an upgrade. And if you can’t even remember how long you’ve had your mattress, then it’s definitely time to say buh-bye.

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