Shopping for mattresses doesn't have to be a stressful experience.

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Did you know that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping? Well-rested adults, on average, sleep six to eight hours each night and have lower rates of depression and high blood pressure than those who are sleep deprived. While many of us drift off on couches, airplanes and sometimes (don't tell) our desks at work, most of us do the majority of our sleeping on mattresses. Because we spend so much time in bed, it's important that we're comfortable and get the best sleep possible.

Experts recommend buying a new mattress every 10 years, at least. Over time, they can begin to sag or lose firmness and collect dust and other allergens. However, mattress shopping can be such an expensive, confusing process that many of us avoid it for as long as possible.

Shopping for a mattress is difficult for a number of reasons. First, it's a big purchase, and you don't want to blow a lot of money on something that's only so-so -- your bed should be perfect! But mattress shopping is also highly subjective. What feels comfortable to you may be unbearable to someone else. If that's not enough to make you nervous, recent scandals have made consumers question the materials inside their beds. Some people find the experience akin to shopping for a used car (think pushy salespeople, confusing discussions about optional features and good deals gone bad).

Although shopping for this product has its challenges, it isn't a hopeless endeavor. With some simple research and a little legwork, you can find and purchase the bed of your dreams.

Read the next page for some easy-to-follow tips on mattress shopping.