Mattress Shopping – Insights from My Trials

Buy­ing a new mat­tress has got to be one of the most try­ing con­sumer expe­ri­ences ever. You’re bring­ing a stranger into your home, and you hope to have an inti­mate rela­tion­ship for many years to come.

The odds are stacked against you.

  • The sales­peo­ple always sound con­vinc­ing in the store.  But can you rely on that to make a major con­sumer choice?
  • The same man­u­fac­tur­er puts out mat­tress­es under dif­fer­ent brand names, and every store fea­tures mat­tress­es with dif­fer­ent names and mod­el num­bers.
  • You might feel com­fort­able on a par­tic­u­lar mat­tress in the show­room, but how are you going to feel about it over an entire night’s sleep? And what about ten or fif­teen years down the road? Will it be all lumpy and sag­gy?
  • What’s the best firm mat­tress?  Can it be too firm?

And, they’re expen­sive.

I can’t rec­om­mend a spe­cif­ic brand or mod­el, but I can share with you some tips I gained from my expe­ri­ence shop­ping.

• Firm vs. soft? You want a mat­tress that doesn’t sag over­all, but that cra­dles each indi­vid­ual body part. So your mat­tress should be glob­al­ly firm, but local­ly com­pli­ant. With­in that gen­er­al prin­ci­ple, indi­vid­ual pref­er­ences dif­fer. That’s okay – what­ev­er lev­el firm­ness feels good to you can still give your spine plen­ty of sup­port.

• A test run in the mat­tress store for a few min­utes can give you an idea of the mat­tress’ com­fort. If you like the feel in the store, you should be good for 7–8 hours each night.

• Once you find a mat­tress that feels com­fort­able in the store, you hope your mat­tress will last. That’s the con­fus­ing part. There are no con­sumer sur­veys that com­pile mat­tress-sat­is­fac­tion data ten years down the road. And even if you have a friend who bought a mat­tress fif­teen years ago and still loves it, you’re out of luck – you won’t be able to find the same mod­el still being sold.

• More expen­sive mat­tress­es aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly bet­ter.

• The Tem­pur-Pedic “mem­o­ry-foam” type of mat­tress has been get­ting a lot of buzz, but it has draw­backs. It doesn’t breathe like a con­ven­tion­al mat­tress, and it can be cold in the win­ter and hot in the sum­mer. It con­forms to your body shape by form­ing val­leys to cra­dle your body parts. When you roll over into a new posi­tion, the mat­tress takes time to read­just, so at first you’ll be lying awk­ward­ly on the ridges formed from your pri­or posi­tion.

• The num­ber of coils in your mat­tress prob­a­bly doesn’t mat­ter much, since the stiff­ness and thick­ness of each coil is more impor­tant. And your box spring is also impor­tant – it absorbs some of the forces that oth­er­wise would deform the coils over time.

• Besides which, the padding of your mat­tress is like­ly to wear out or get com­pact­ed long before the coils lose their spro­ing.

• A few years back, man­u­fac­tur­ers began mak­ing one-sided mat­tress­es that don’t need to be rotat­ed. That sounds good, doesn’t it? You nev­er have to flip your mat­tress. The trade-off? You’re get­ting a mat­tress with half the dura­bil­i­ty.

• That’s why you show avoid a pil­low-top. An extra pil­low top on your mat­tress turns it into a one-sided, non-flip­pable mat­tress­es. If you like extra cush­ion­ing, you can always use a remov­able mat­tress pad instead.

Hope this helps. Just remem­ber — give up try­ing to make a per­fect deci­sion based on com­plete infor­ma­tion. You’re nev­er going to have com­plete infor­ma­tion. Good luck.


About Aaron Bynen

Aaron is a health conscious individual living in the Pacific Northwest.
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One Response to Mattress Shopping – Insights from My Trials

  1. I wish I had read this pri­or to buy­ing my last mat­tress a num­ber of years ago. I end­ed up with a Spring Air, Pil­low Top mat­tress. It was great for a year or two, then the pil­low top began to sag. It became very lumpy and uncom­fort­able. I wish I had bought a more stan­dard type of mat­tress and then just added a remov­able Pil­low top. Anoth­er thing you may want to inquire about is the war­ran­ty. Mine had a 10 year plan against defects. Last year I put in a claim, only to find that the com­pa­ny I pur­chased it from went out of busi­ness. No prob­lem though, they said that Sleepy’s would take over the con­tract. So, I called Sleepy’s and they sent some­one over to pho­to­graph, mea­sure and thor­ough­ly inspect the mat­tress. It got a bet­ter check up than I did from my MD a cou­ple of weeks ago. Any­way, they agreed that it was not func­tion­ing as it should and gave me a coupon for a dis­count on anoth­er new­er mat­tress. I didn’t open the coupon which came in the mail, for a cou­ple of months, because I wasn’t ready to shop. Well, when I did open it, I found that the coupon was only good for two weeks. I called, but they wouldn’t hon­or it. Buy­er beware!

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