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How Does a Mattress Trial Work? (25 Trial Lengths Revealed)

If you’re thinking about buying a new mattress online, then you might be wondering how the trial periods that come with these mattresses work.

Mattress trials work by allowing you to buy the mattress and sleep in it for up to a specified number of nights and return it for a refund for any reason – such as the mattress being too firm, too soft, sagging prematurely, developing body impressions, or off-gassing heavily (smelling of chemicals).

However, there are usually some hidden stipulations buried in the terms and conditions of most mattress ‘sleep trials’.

Such as not being able to return the mattress before 30 days have elapsed from the point of delivery if you’ve opened the packaging, and hidden fees associated with return shipping.

So if you want to know how mattress trials really work and how to pick a mattress with a good ‘free trial’ then check out the rest of this article below in full.

I’ve also included some additional information on how to return a mattress via a sleep trial, plus the exact lengths of 25 sleep trials and return policies for some of the most popular mattress companies and retailers.

Alternatively: check out these mattresses with the best sleep trials to save yourself some time (and money – there’s special limited-time discounts available when you buy through the links/buttons on that page) when shopping for a new mattress online.

How Do Mattress Trials Work?

A mattress trial – usually called a ‘sleep trial’ – is more of guarantee than a ‘free trial’.

Because instead of trying the mattress out for free and then paying in full if you like it, you pay for the mattress up-front (either in full with cash or via installments through a mattress financing agreement) and then return the mattress for a refund or exchange if you don’t like it for any reason.

A mattress trial isn’t the same as a warranty.

Because whilst a warranty typically lasts longer than a sleep trial (the average mattress warranty lasts 10 years), the warranty only protects you against defective parts and manufacturing faults – such as broken springs, torn stitching, and sagging above a certain threshold (usually 1-1.5″).

And when the warranty is specified under prorated terms (either in part or in full) – as opposed to non-prorated terms – you will have to contribute a certain amount of money towards replacing the faulty parts.

Conversely, whilst a sleep trial is shorter in duration (the average sleep trial for a mattress lasts 90 – 100 days/nights), the level of protection that it offers is more comprehensive.

That is, providing that the mattress hasn’t been damaged or is in breach of any other terms specified by the mattress company, you should be able to return your mattress for a full refund (sometimes less shipping costs) for any reasonable reason.

Such reasons typically include not liking how the mattress feels (too firm or too soft); indentations, sagging, or body impressions that develop prematurely (and may be below the threshold specified by the warranty), or if the mattress emits a persistent chemical smell (‘off-gassing’ – a phenomenon common with memory foam and polyfoam mattresses due to the chemicals used during manufacturing).

Mattresses that are returned to the seller under the sleep trial are typically donated to a charity or recycled.

Below is a discussion of the potential advantages and disadvantages that are associated with mattress trials.

Advantages

Overall, it’s beneficial to buy a mattress with a sleep trial because it gives you greater protection when compared to the warranty alone.

Here are some of the specific advantages of a mattress trial:

  • A better gauge of comfort – lying on a mattress in the store for a few minutes isn’t a reliable way to accurately assess the comfort of the mattress because it can take up to 30-60 nights of sustained use for a new mattress to adapt to your body shape, body weight, and dominant sleeping position. However, a mattress trial that lasts at least 60 nights should cover the initial ‘break-in’ period and allow you to return the mattress if you’re still uncomfortable.
  • Isn’t voided when you sleep in the mattress – a proper mattress trial allows you to sleep in the mattress and return it if you don’t like it. This contrasts with the return policies associated with some brick and mortar mattress retailers (and even online retailers) that will VOID their return policy once you’ve slept in (or even OPENED) the mattress!
  • Greater protection – as previously discussed, the sleep trial offers you greater protection when compared to the warranty; potentially allowing you to return the mattress for any number of reasons such as sagging, body impressions, indents, persistent odors, being too hot in the mattress, and generally being uncomfortable.

Disadvantages

There are a few things to keep in mind about mattress trials in general and they are as follows:

  • Minimum sleep trial – what many people don’t realize about mattress trials is that they also have a MINIMUM trial period too. This means that normally, you won’t be able to return the mattress until a certain amount of time has elapsed – usually 30 days from the point of delivery. This means that you could end up being stuck with a mattress that you hate and have no intention of keeping for up to a month or more. However, this policy is typically only applied to OPENED mattresses – if you don’t open the packaging then you can usually return the mattress immediately.
  • Hidden fees – some mattress companies will charge you for the return shipping, which could amount to $100’s depending on your location. However, many mattress companies now offer free shipping and returns as standard – although this may not apply for some locations (typically if you’re ordering a mattress from the US but you live in Canada or elsewhere outside the non-contiguous US).
  • No returns for certain locations – just as there may be hidden fees for returning a mattress, some mattress companies may not accept returns at all if you live in a certain location.
  • Difficult returns – if you do decide to return your mattress under the trial, you may discover that the company drags their heels so that they don’t have to give you a full refund. For example, they may offer you a ‘comfort exchange’, where they send you a different mattress or new layers with different firmnesses (this may actually solve the issue, but you should check the terms to ensure that you can get a full monetary refund in the event of a return).
  • Forced to get rid of the mattress yourself – depending on your location or the terms of the return policy, a mattress company may ask you get rid of the mattress yourself (usually by taking it to be recycled or donating it) and then sending proof so that you can get your refund. However, most of the reputable companies will come and pick the mattress up for you.
  • Conflicts with finance agreements – if you buy a mattress on finance, then this is normally done through a separate entity like Klarna or Affirm; meaning that you’ll need to be careful that you don’t incur any extra payments through the cancellation of your plan.
  • Voided/superseded trials – in some cases, buying your mattress from a retailer (either online or offline) instead of going through the manufacturer/company may mean that the sleep trial is either voided or superseded by the seller’s return policy (which may be less favorable – be sure to check the terms).

How to Pick a Good Mattress Trial

As you’ll have noticed from the list of pros and cons above, there are quite a few potential disadvantages to watch out for.

So when looking for a good mattress trial, you should follow the 5 steps below.

Or you can save time by choosing a mattress from my list of the best mattress trials – where every mattress on that list has a sleep trial that lasts for at least 365 nights (with the top picks having trials that last up to 1.5 years).

1: Look for at Least a 1 Year Trial

Whilst a 60-90 night trial should be enough to cover the initial ‘break-in’ period, I actually advise that you go for a mattress that has a sleep trial that lasts for at least 365 nights.

Because this allows you to test the mattress throughout all 4 seasons to ensure that you’re happy with it in a range of different temperatures.

This is very important if you’re going for a mattress with a fair amount of memory foam in it – since this material is the most likely to retain heat and may freeze or become stiff in cold weather.

Furthermore, a long sleep trial also covers you against premature sagging, body impressions, and indents that fall below the threshold specified by the warranty.

2: Find Out the Minimum Trial Period

Don’t just be wowed by the length of the sleep trial.

Take the time to check out the terms and conditions to find out what the minimum trial period is – if any applies at all.

Normally, you’ll have to hang on to an OPENED mattress for at least 30 days before you can claim on the sleep trial and return it.

However, this may be waived if the mattress hasn’t been opened – meaning that you should be able to return it right away if required.

3: Ensure it’s a Full Money-Back Policy

Whilst exchanges and part-exchanges can often resolve comfort issues, you need to check the terms to ensure that you can get a full refund for your purchase (potentially less shipping costs).

The reason being that if you really don’t want the mattress or any of the other mattresses being offered by the company then you’ll want to be able to get your money back so that you can shop elsewhere.

4: Look for Hidden Fees and Stipulations

Many mattress companies will provide you with free shipping and returns – so that you’re not left a penny out of pocket if you decide to return the mattress under the trial.

However, there are many more that will charge you for the return shipping (or won’t refund you for the initial shipping) and possibly for any replacement parts/exchanges.

So you need to check the terms before you buy – especially if you’re ordering a mattress in a box from the US when you reside outside the contiguous states (Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada often need to pay more).

You should also check for other hidden stipulations, such as not being able to return the mattress at all if you’re based in/outside a specific location.

5: Order Directly From the Company

If you’ve found a mattress with a trial that suits you then make sure that you order the mattress directly from the manufacturer/brand rather than a 3rd party seller or a different retailer.

Most online bed in a box companies are DTC (direct to consumer), which means that you can go to their branded website and order directly from the company to ensure that the terms of the sleep trial (and warranty) apply.

This contrasts with buying through a separate retailer that may have a different return policy.

It’s also worth noting that if you buy a mattress from an unauthorized retailer or seller then the sleep trial likely won’t apply (and the warranty may be voided too).

Sleeping On Your New Mattress – What to Look For

Once you’ve got your new mattress and set it up (allowing the mattress to fully expand before first use), you need to pay close attention to how the mattress feels and how it impacts the quality of your sleep.

Because if something is wrong, you may be able to return the mattress under the terms of the trial if you’re not happy.

Here are the 5 main points to evaluate when your mattress is still under trial.

1: New Pain that Won’t Go Away

If you’ve been sleeping on an old, worn-out mattress with sagging and body impressions then you may actually feel uncomfortable on your new mattress initially, because your body may have adapted over time to your old mattress.

Even if your new mattress has only a slightly different feel to it, you may experience aches and pains for a few days.

But if you’re still uncomfortable after the initial break-in period as passed (30-60 nights of continuous use), then it might be best to return the mattress under the terms of the trial.

However, you should also try to identify what aspect of the mattress caused you pain.

Was the mattress too soft, too firm, lacking in support, or made from materials that didn’t suit you (memory foam can sometimes cause back pain)?

Because identifying the cause can help you to avoid buying another mattress and experiencing the same problem.

Also, if the mattress company initially offers you a free mattress topper or layer exchange instead of a refund, then you may want to try it because it may actually solve the issue.

2: Premature Sagging and Body Impressions

It’s quite normal to have slight dips and body impressions form after sleeping on your mattress after a few weeks as the material adapts to your physical characteristics.

But if sagging and changes to the mattress surface arise that cause you discomfort (typically if the indents are beyond 1 inch) then you could return the mattress under the terms of the trial.

3: Persistent Odor

Many mattresses in a box will smell ‘new’ just after opening.

This is due to the release of particles that were trapped during the manufacturing process.

However, in some cases (particularly if the mattress contains memory foam, polyfoam, and/or synthetic chemicals or adhesives) this ‘off-gassing’ smell may be particularly strong.

In most cases, the smell will go away in a few hours or days if you keep the room well ventilated.

However, in some cases (especially if you bought a cheap memory foam mattress WITHOUT a CertiPUR-US® certification that ensures the odor-causing VOCs are limited to less than 0.5 parts per million [1]) the smell may be too strong for your senses and may not go away.

In which case, this may be grounds to return the mattress under the terms of the trial.

4: Overheating

If you’re finding that your mattress is making you too hot then you may be able to return it under the terms of the sleep trial – although this may prove to be a tricker basis for return when compared to the reasons listed above.

Because whilst mattresses that contain memory foam are notorious for retaining heat, the mattress company may argue that their mattress comes with cooling properties and that the rise in temperature is due to your body type or the ambient climate.

They may offer you a set of free cooling bed sheets or an exchange for a more aerated mattress (spring, latex, and hybrid mattresses tend to be more breathable than all-foam, memory foam and polyfoam mattresses) – but they may also give you a full refund depending on the brand.

5: Worsened Sleep Quality

If you’re restless in your new mattress or waking up feeling unrefreshed then you may be able to return the mattress if you can pinpoint the cause relative to the mattress itself.

For example, tossing and turning may be due to the mattress being too firm (increasing the pressure points on your body).

Whilst back pain or other discomforts could be due to you sinking too far into the mattress – which may indicate that the mattress is too thin relative to your body weight, too soft, or lacking the right amount of support.

If you can tie the issue to a structural/design issue with the mattress then you’re more likely to be able to claim successfully on the sleep trial.

How to Return a Mattress Under Trial

If you’ve decided to return your mattress under the terms of the sleep trial then here’s the 3 step process that you should follow:

1: Contact the Purchasing Site

You’ll need to contact the company where you purchased the mattress from.

For example, if you bought a Sealy mattress through Mattress Firm, then you’ll need to get in touch with Mattress Firm rather than Sealy to initiate the return process.

If you’ve ordered your mattress through a DTC mattress company then you can return to the website and contact their customer support through live chat, email, or a contact form telling them that you’d like to make a return under the sleep trial.

They will then tell you exactly what your next steps are.

2: Prepare for Return

Once you’ve contacted customer support, they’ll likely tell you that the next step is to prepare your mattress to be picked up by a courier.

Often times, this is as simple as just leaving the mattress at a designated pick up point – you WON’T be expected to recompress the mattress into the box (most online mattresses are compressed into a box for easier transportation using specialist machinery).

In rarer cases, you may be asked to dispose of the mattress yourself (typically by donating or recycling the mattress) and then sending photographic proof or a receipt in order to obtain your refund.

3: Get Your Refund

Once the mattress has been returned to the company or they have received your proof of disposal, you’ll normally receive your refund (potentially less shipping and other costs if applicable) within 14 days.

25 Mattress Trial Lengths Revealed

To save you from having to trawl through multiple websites, I’ve listed the duration and the key terms of the mattress trials for the most popular mattress brands/companies.

I’ve also provided a link to the terms of the sleep trial/return policies for further reading (which I suggest doing because they may update the terms periodically).

1: Argos

Argos offer a ‘100-night comfort promise’.

But this sleep trial allows for an exchange ONLY if you don’t like your mattress – you can’t get a monetary refund.

There is, however, a separate 30-day return policy that allows you to get a refund if you’ve NOT opened your new mattress and you have proof of purchase.

See full terms here.

2: Avocado

Avocado’s sleep trial lasts for 1 year – starting from the day you receive your mattress.

The minimum trial period is 30-60 days.

You may return your mattress for a full refund (less any applicable fees paid through Affirm if you paid by finance) and there are no restocking fees or charges for returns/pickups inside the 50 US states (including Alaska and Hawaii).

If you ordered your mattress outside the US then you are responsible for any costs associated with pickups and returns.

See full terms here.

3: Bensons For Beds

Bensons for Beds offer a ’40 night guarantee’ that allows you to sleep on your new mattress for a minimum of 40 nights (and a maximum of 56) and get an EXCHANGE if you’re not comfortable in your initial purchase.

You MUST use a mattress protector with your initial mattress otherwise the guarantee is void.

See full terms here.

4: Bear

Bear offers a 100-night sleep trial – you must try the mattress for a minimum of 30 nights before the return can be initiated.

You will be refunded the cost of the mattress less any discounts, and the mattress must be removed from your home by an authorized party of Bear Mattress LLC and confirmed by Bear Mattress LLC.

See full terms here.

5: Brentwood Home

Brentwood Home offer a sleep trial that lasts for 1 year.

The minimum sleep trial period is 30 days, and you must be the original purchaser.

You will receive a full refund for the mattress and shipping if you bought directly from Brentwood Home, but you will not be refunded for financing fees paid directly to Affirm.

Pickups will be arranged for you.

See the full terms here.

6: Casper

Casper offer a 100 night sleep trial on mattresses and a 30 night trial on all other Casper products.

You can return the items for free and get a full refund – except for the In-Home Delivery and Setup service because this is an additional service.

See the full terms here.

7: Dreams

Dreams offer a 40-night comfort guarantee that allows you to EXCHANGE your mattress for a different one.

You will be sent out bags in advance that you must use to wrap the component parts ready for collection.

See the full terms here.

8: DreamCloud

DreamCloud offer a 365 night trial with a 30 day minimum trial period.

You will receive a full refund less fees for shipping, white glove delivery, promotional values, and state-based recycling fees.

Products must be returned in a condition that allows them to be donated – mattresses that were not unboxed within 90 days of delivery will have their sleep trial and warranty voided.

Products shipped outside the contiguous US are NOT eligible for return.

See the full terms here.

9: Emma

Emma offer a 200 night sleep trial that begins from the day you receive your order.

Refunds will be issued within 14 days of your mattress being collected and processed.

See the full terms here.

10: Eve

Eve offers a 100-night sleep trial on their mattresses – a 2 man collection service will be used to pick up your mattress.

Eve tends to be more lenient in terms of the degree of wear and tear that the mattress has been exposed to.

See the full terms here.

11: Helix

Helix offer a 100 night sleep trial with a minimum trial period of 30 days.

Top layer comfort exchanges are also available to make the bed softer or firmer depending on your preference.

See the full terms here.

12: Ikea

Ikea offer a 365 day return policy.

However, this applies to products in a new, unused, and re-saleable condition, with the packaging included.

See the full terms here.

13: John Lewis

John Lewis does NOT offer exchanges or refunds on mattresses or bedding unless it’s faulty, not as described, or part of a supplier promotion (as outlined under the list of ineligible items).

See full terms here.

14: Macy’s

Macy’s offer a 120-night sleep trial where you can return the mattress for preference reasons – less shipping fees and a potential restocking fee of 15%.

See full terms here.

15: Nectar

Nectar offer a 365 night sleep trial with a minimum trial period of 30 days.

Mattresses must be in a condition whereby they can be donated (at Nectar’s discretion) – since pickups are undertaken by charity partners.

The Fire Safety Verification tag must still be attached and mattresses must be opened within 90 days.

See full terms here.

16: Puffy

Puffy offers a 101-night sleep trial with a minimum trial period of 14 days – full refunds are available.

See full terms here.

17: Purple

The Purple mattress trial lasts for 100 days from the point of delivery – with a minimum trial period of 21 days.

Exchanges are also available.

See full terms here.

18: Saatva

Saatva offers a 180-day mattress trial – you will be refunded in full less the $99 transportation costs.

See full terms here.

19: Sealy

Sealy offers a 100-night sleep trial with a minimum 30 night trial period – monetary refunds are available.

See full terms here.

20: Serta

Serta mattresses bought directly from Serta.com come with a 120-night sleep trial – mattresses ordered through an authorized retailer will likely be subject to a different return policy.

See full terms here.

21: Simba

Simba offer a 200 night sleep trial with free returns.

If you ordered through John Lewis you’ll likely still get the 200-night trial but you’ll have to go through John Lewis to process the return.

See full terms here.

22: Tempur-Pedic

Tempur-Pedic offers a 90 night sleep trial with a 30 night minimum try out period.

You will get a refund less shipping charges.

See full terms here.

23: Tuft and Needle

Tuft and Needle offers a 100 night sleep trial.

Full refunds (including shipping) are available – although if you ordered from Alaska or Hawaii then you will not get the original shipping fees refunded.

See full terms here.

24: Wayfair

Wayfair offers a 100 night free trial – free returns and exchanges are available.

See the full terms here.

25: Zinus

Zinus offer a 100 night sleep trial.

However, this only applies to Zinus products bought directly from Zinus.com.

Zinus offer their mattresses through a range of other online retailers, so if you bought from an authorized 3rd party then their return policy will apply.

See full terms here.

Conclusion: Buy From the Company Site

The mattresses with the best sleep trials tend to be those that you order directly from the company website.

Because the sleep trials offered by some retailers offer less protection – such as lasting for fewer nights or being void once you’ve opened the mattress (which is pretty useless – how will you know if you don’t like the mattress until you’ve slept on it?).

You can also save more money when you buy through the company website in many cases too.

What’s the Mattress With the Best Sleep Trial?

The mattress with the best sleep trial in terms of length is the Idle Hybrid (lasting 1.5 years).

Click the button below to learn more about this mattress and other mattresses with sleep trials that last for 1 year or more.


Sources and References

[1] CertiPUR-US® – Overview. Accessed 19/8/20.

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