Mattress Musings?
August 28, 2010 12:08 AM   Subscribe

We need a new mattress, as our old one is ancient and reduced to badly sagging springs and dust-mites. This is such a complicated and involved topic, and it's so under-served by reputable sites online, I'm having trouble figuring out the smart play. I am enormous, she is petite. I toss and turn vigorously, she sleeps like a log. I think anything above freezing is too hot, and she thinks anything below 85 is too cold. We really like the company of sleeping in the same bed. Help?

We need at least a king size, as she likes making comforter forts on her side in her sleep, and I wind up with sixteen inches of space on my side.

Is it possible, or even advisable to order online, like from Overstock? What's this memory foam thing, and how do I keep from baking on it? What's a pillowtop gonna do?
posted by Slap*Happy to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I swear by McRoskey. (Sadly, they seem to have changed their slogan from what it used to be: "We're just better in bed.")

Handmade to order, from a family-run business that's over a hundred years old. They ship worldwide. Hands-down one of the best products and best consumer experiences I've ever had, and no they're not paying me to say that.
posted by trip and a half at 1:02 AM on August 28, 2010

I keep this old article bookmarked for mattress-shopping insight. It at least de-mystifies some terminology.
posted by neushoorn at 1:05 AM on August 28, 2010

I wouldn't buy a mattress without at least lying down on it first, and since you have two competing sets of ideals for the mattress you want, I would strongly suggest going to a few good mattress stores to find out what works best for you.

I don't know what area you live in, so I can't suggest somewhere. Here in the Boston area, Jordan's Furniture has an excellent mattress department, even if their "sleep technicians" in the white lab coats look a bit silly.
posted by xingcat at 3:41 AM on August 28, 2010

Just went through this. Take your time shop around try out all the mattress in your price range. Bring your own pillow and try to fall asleep if you can. Do not mail order unless you find a 100% money back guarantee and they cove return shipping. Foam mattress are hot you will not notice this in the store. You will not notice this until you have blankets on. Tempurpedic memory foam mattress are awful for stomach sleepers back sleepers tend to like them their money back guarantee will cost you 250.00 if you decide to return it. Which is what we ended up doing. My wife loved the Tempurpedic I hated it. We compromised and got a latex mattress which is ok. I let the mattress salesman talk me out of buying 2 twin mattresses for our king size bed. Considering the way we sleep I think if we had to do it all over again that is what we would do. A twin Tempurpedic for her and a twin regular old pillow top for me. I would have had to make some adjustments to ensure both mattresses were the same height but I wish that is what we would have done.
posted by jmsta at 4:40 AM on August 28, 2010

After reading this recommendation for mattress toppers, I got a middle of the road mattress and one of these toppers.

Anecdata: for over 20 years when my parents would come to visit me and my three (very loud) kids, they'd stay in hotels to maintain their sanity. Since I got the mattress topper, they kick me out of my room so they can sleep on what they say is the best bed in the world.
posted by dzaz at 4:56 AM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

What's this memory foam thing, and how do I keep from baking on it?

If you think "anything above freezing is too hot," foam is right out. We have a foam mattress, and we both love it much more than any mattress we've had previously. But we also both agree that its biggest drawback is that it's very, very hot. A thick cotton mattress cover is alleged by some people to mitigate the heat, but I can't imagine that it's going to be effective enough for someone who describes themselves as you do.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:53 AM on August 28, 2010

Here in the Boston area, Jordan's Furniture has an excellent mattress department, even if their "sleep technicians" in the white lab coats look a bit silly.

Slap*Happy's one of us, if I remember correctly. The problem with Jordan's as opposed to a standard mattress retailer is that you can't haggle. If you're not going to do that, Jordan's prices are about the same as Sleepy's/Mattress Giant and the service is better.

Because you're probably thinking about it, I don't think IKEA is the right place for mattresses. Their inexpensive mattresses aren't good and their good mattresses aren't inexpensive.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:00 AM on August 28, 2010

If you can afford it, a dual boxspring might help stabilize your tossing and turning so it doesn't bother her. I have been accused of running marathons in my sleep and it doesn't bother him nearly as much as before. Also, I rarely wake up when he gets out of bed in the middle of the night, which is nice. It's 2 boxsprings side by side, covered by 1 mattress. He likes hard, I like soft. We split the difference after the mattress salesman said my husband's hips were dipping just enough into the softer (more expensive too) that he might have back pain in a few years. It has been 2 years and we both periodically wake up and remark on what a comfortable bed we have.

Definitely spend a while trying beds out in person. Then buy wherever you get the best deal from a reuptable company with a good return policy. We were very happy with Sleepys, YMMV.
posted by Amizu at 7:03 AM on August 28, 2010

Well, what's your budget like?

I can guarantee that you'll both be insanely happy with a Hästens king-size bed.

Um, but you know, the price is sort of like a small car.

But they do make horsehair-stuffed mattress toppers for cheap. We put one of them over a MUCH-cheaper mattress and it's pretty exquisite.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:42 AM on August 28, 2010

My rules of thumb for mattresses: No pillow tops and buy one step firmer than you think you want. Like colors of paint that look darker or brighter once they're on your wall, mattresses get softer once they leave the showroom.

I was told that mattresses are very susceptible to the Hard Buy, so if you are a negotiator you should figure out what mattress you want (or the general price of what you're looking at) and be sure to have 2/3 of that price in cash in your pocket. Rumor has it that they'll be inclined to take it when you offer $800 cash for a $1200 mattress.

Mattresses are a mob scam, so how much you pay will depend on how much you want to unravel the scam. I have little patience, so I paid the $1200 without question and went home to wait for my much-needed mattress to be delivered a couple hours later. I haven't looked back or regretted it at all (and I often get buyer's remorse over much smaller items).
posted by rhizome at 8:06 AM on August 28, 2010

Best answer: Check out Particularly, this chart.
posted by Ouisch at 8:36 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Check out these Sleep Number beds, in which each side can be adjusted separately to your preferences. You can try them in your house for 30 days with your money back if not satisfied. Note: they sell whole beds, not matresses. But you could easily spend more on a non-adjustable mattress than what they charge for some of the beds. Sizes run up to California King. The adjustment machinery can also deliver a massage.
posted by beagle at 9:23 AM on August 28, 2010

Sleep Number bed FTW. Expensive, adjustable, and here's the dealmaker: they don't wear out! So you spend a grand on a mattress, but you won't be replacing it in five years. Or ten. Ours is fifteen years old. Best furniture investment ever.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:55 AM on August 28, 2010

Oh, one note about Sleep Number beds. If you like to sleep spooned together, you should get the bed with one adjustment (air bladder) rather than the bed with two. The dual-bladder beds have a firm foam divider in the centre that is not awesome for overnight centre-of-bed cuddling. It is not an issue during sex.

Since you mentioned tossing and turning while she sleeps like a log, I'm guessing you don't spoon-sleep, so this probably isn't an issue.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:59 AM on August 28, 2010

Don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't don't even consider memory foam if you're a hot sleeper.

Not even if you were given one for free.
Not even if a company that makes them wanted to pay you to sleep on one.

I'm sure they are wonderful mattresses. I guarantee there are people who love them and have a wonderfully peaceful night's sleep on them, night after night after night. If you're a hot sleeper, you are not going to be one of those people. I'm a hot sleeper too. A memory foam mattress nearly cost me a relationship once because I couldn't sleep at my then girlfriend's place. Her bed was perfectly comfy, but I'd just lie there and roast. If I did fall asleep somehow, I'd roast myself awake in the middle of the night. Even with the AC running, I'd wake up in the middle of the night sweaty and frustrated.

Don't take my word for it though.

Best of luck finding a new mattress! The process isn't fun.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:52 AM on August 28, 2010

I bought a Stearns and Foster non-pillow top hard as a rock at the Macy's outlet. I used this guy as a source, and then tested everything.

He's not exactly Consumer Affairs, but he's good at explaining the different names used by the manufacturers for different retailers.

Mattresses aren't 2 sided anymore, which broke my heart. I like my new mattress fine, but I don't expect it to last more than 8 years. But I paid around $800 for a queen set that retailed for over $3K, so I was happy. The guys delivered it for free, took the old one away for free, and I tipped big.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:22 AM on August 28, 2010

I like our FloBeds bed a lot. The really cool thing is that you build up the different layers of material on each side of the bed, so it's completely customizable. So, we had three layers on each side of various firmness (eg, medium, firm, x-firm), and we would stack and re-stack to see what each of us liked.
We easily figured out what worked great for us, and ended up exchanging one piece.
You can do as many returns as you like in 90 days.
posted by j at 11:53 AM on August 28, 2010

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