The Bed We Make
“I’m afraid I’m gonna have to pull rank on you. I didn’t want to have to do this. I’m with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.” Fletch(1985)
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: your bed is the most important piece of furniture you own. If you wake up sore and stiff, if you have to shift frequently throughout the night to get comfortable, or if you notice a “sag” in your mattress, it might be time to get a new bed.
Here are a few tips for when you head out to find your new bed. This is not meant to be a comprehensive checklist for purchasing a mattress, but it will help you to ask the right questions, and hopefully reduce buyers’ remorse.
- Comfort is king: Your bed should be comfortable to you, provide pressure relief, and (my favorite) provide proper spinal alignment. It’s subjective how firm a bed should be, and varies from person to person.
- Materials make the bed, not the name brand: A bed has a core, covering, and comfort layers. The core is usually NOT the culprit when a bed starts to sag, though having lateral supports across the bed as well as the length of it will increase durability. The comfort layers are where you should focus most of your attention. Latex is commonly considered the most durable, and highest quality comfort layer when compared to memory foam or polyfoam, but note that there is some variation of quality within all of these types. Higher density is often longer lasting, but more compact materials can trap heat next to the body causing discomfort. Be sure to find out how this issue is addressed in the bed’s construction.
- Find a store with knowledgeable sales people: Buying a bed is an important investment. The person or store you buy from should be able to honestly and knowledgeably answer ALL of your questions about the materials in the mattress. They should be able to tell you how long it will last, the benefits and limitations of different types of comfort layers, and also provide comparable options across brands and price ranges. Often, the most knowledgeable salespeople are at some of the smaller, direct-from-the-factory stores. These outlets normally stock only one or two private label brands who have deconstructed the most popular name brand models and recreated them at a lower cost due to not nationally advertising their products.
- Take your time: Once you’ve found a bed that interests you, spend a little time actually laying on it. Don’t short change yourself by only quickly sitting at the foot of it or only laying down for a moment, since that’s not how you’ll use it once you get it home. Unless you hit a home run at your first stop by finding the perfect mattress, you should check out 3 or 4 stores. You’ve been sleeping on your old, worn out mattress for a while now, so a few more days won’t hurt…. too much.
As always, if you have any questions, concerns or would like some references on mattresses please don’t hesitate to contact me. Consumer Reports is a very good, unbiased source of information on this topic as well. Thanks for your time!