I need to buy a new mattress.
May 6, 2005 5:24 AM   Subscribe

Our mattress is so bad it is causing us to lose sleep. I know choosing a mattress has a lot to do with personal needs (firm vs. soft, etc.) but does anyone have a suggestion about what brand or model is best? Is a Sleep Number bed worth the money? What are some things I need to look for in a new mattress.
posted by mudhouse to Shopping (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It probably costs more than gold per ounce, but nothing in the galaxy is more comfortable or affords better sleep than the NASA-associated Tempur-pedic material, aka memory foam. More info here.

Seriously, this stuff is expensive. My aunt got a full mattress because she has severe back problems. I slept on it once and I didn't want to leave the bed.

A less expensive alternative is latex. Full latex mattresses are also expensive, though far less than tempur. I have a mattress that is a kind of sandwiched dealy, with latex on either side and some kind of more generic 'stuffing' in the middle. The benefit is the dense-yet-pliable/body-forming feel that I like.

A friend of mine just bought a thin layer of latex to put over her regular mattress and it improved comfort quite a bit. From what I've seen online, they're called mattress toppers or mattress pads, and you can also get tempur ones. Might be the best compromise of price and satisfaction. Seriously, do a search and find a store near you that carries tempur/memory foam and latex mattresses and lie on them for a while.
posted by the_savage_mind at 6:29 AM on May 6, 2005

Previous thread that may be useful. Nobody can tell you what's right for you; there's no substitute for going to a store and spending as much time as necessary lying down on all the candidates and deciding what feels best. (If you haven't done this before, it will feel odd at first, but you'll get over it quickly -- everybody's doing it, nobody cares.) For what it's worth, my wife and I got a Stearns & Foster at a Macy's sale several years ago and have never regretted it; in fact, every once in a while one of us will still say to the other "I'm really glad we got this mattress!" Spend a little extra to get what really feels right; you'll be amazed what a difference a good mattress can make.
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on May 6, 2005

I'll second the recommendation for memory foam. I've got an atrocious mattress I bought at a rock-bottom price when I was broke. Maybe 18 months ago I bought a 2" memory foam mattress pad and it is probably the best purchase I have ever made. It made this horrendous bed quite comfortable (others who have slept in it agree). Definitely look for the more dense stuff (5lbs instead of 3lbs), it's worth the extra cost.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:45 AM on May 6, 2005

How large is your current bed? We used to share a full and were constantly fighting over space. We switched to a queen about two years ago and it's been wonderful.

I don't think one brand is any better than another, but stay away from no-names. Go to a store with a large selection and do not let the salesperson pressure you. Lay on the bed -- on your back, your sides, your stomach. Pretend you're reading, watching TV, whatever you normally do in bed. You've got to try out all possible positions because you might find the mattress uncomfortable for certain things. Take your time.
posted by suchatreat at 6:53 AM on May 6, 2005

This month's consumer reports reviews mattresses. I haven't opened it yet, however.
posted by sohcahtoa at 6:56 AM on May 6, 2005

Pillow top. Mm... Bed.

We had a mattress set that sucked big time for years. Buying a new boxspring and mattress was the best investment in happiness to come along in a long time.

Pillow top. Ah...

S**** C****** Canada, you suck, by the way. That boxspring and mattress we bought when we first got married? The boxspring--wasn't. Just a box, with the same decorative fabric (which ripped constantly). What a ripoff! And the mattress was even worse. I had to put a comforter on the bed beneath the sheets to keep from getting poked by the coils. Oh, did it suck.

The difference between that and our next set was unbelievable. Ah, pillow top bliss.

The only thing with the pillow tops is that you might have to look for sheets a bit bigger than normal.
posted by Savannah at 6:59 AM on May 6, 2005

I'm with uncleozzy,

Buying a 2 inch topper for my uncomfortable bed was one of the best things I have ever done. I used to be a tosser (no, not that kind you dirty Brits) but now I often wake up having stayed in exactly the same place all night.

Check out healthy foundations.
posted by batboy at 7:02 AM on May 6, 2005

I have a tempurpedic type topper on my bed. It shifts around, makes it difficult to get the sheets on correctly, it isn't thick enough, but I would never go without it.

The next bed is getting a full tempurpedic mattress, regardless of cost.
posted by bh at 7:09 AM on May 6, 2005

Bergad is an inexpensive source for memory (viscoelastic) foam mattresses and pads. You will make kittens (and your wallet) cry if you buy Tempur-Pedic brand, as they are purely a marketing company.

Your local foam store may also be competitive.
posted by trevyn at 7:13 AM on May 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

I concur with the memory foam but you don't have to buy Tempurpedic. That is just one VERY overpriced name brand version of memory foam. A couple of years ago I bought a 10" king sized memory foam mattress for about $1200. It included 6" of latex on the bottom and 4" of 5lb Sensus memory foam and it's GREAT! It was only about 40% of the cost of a Tempurpedic mattress which is vastly inferior with just 4" of cheap foam on the bottom and 3" of memory foam.

I found the place I purchased from on eBay but purchased from the store as they happened to be near where I was living at the time. I can't seem to find the link but a quick look at eBay shows that prices have come down and queen mattresses similair to mine go for $600 or so.

Another great feature of the mattresses is they roll up. I brought my king size mattress home in my Nissan Maxima. :)
posted by aaronh at 7:19 AM on May 6, 2005

Something about personal taste to keep in mind as you are considering a foam mattress: They retain heat like hell itself, so if you have trouble sleeping when you're too warm, you'll loathe foam with the hatred of a thousand (sleepless) suns.

Also, if you use your bed for activities other than sleeping -- sex, reading, plinking at a laptop -- the foam's squish factor can be a hindrance.
posted by majick at 7:20 AM on May 6, 2005

I did just happen to read that Consumer Reports mattress review this morning (as it happens). Here are the two most important points:

- Everything about mattresses is totally subjective--firmness, cushioning, and technology (foam vs. springs). On every front, their testers varied widely, and for just about everything one person loved, someone else hated. You can't take someone else's recommendation and expect that to ensure your long-term comfort.

- The best indicator of long-term satisfaction with the 15-minute test in the store. The satisfaction/return rates for people who gave their mattress a good, long try in the store was just about the same as people who did the 30-day test at home. They said you shouldn't be shy about trying mattresses--any good store expects it--and spend at least 5 mins on each side and on your back/stomach. (Satisfaction/return is apparently much worse for online/phone purchases.)

The bottom line is that you really need to go to at least one good store, with a good selection, and try several different mattresses for yourself. If you're interested in a specialty mattress like the foam, make sure you spend time on one of those, too, before you buy.
posted by LairBob at 7:31 AM on May 6, 2005

I bought a king-sized ComfortAire mattress last year for me and my wife (after asking about it here), and we're very happy with it. The only downside I'd heard before buying was soft mattress edging, but perhaps they've fixed that -- I'm a big guy, and I have no trouble sitting on the edge of the bed.

I can't sleep when I'm hot, so even though the memory foam brands felt nice at first, I knew I'd have trouble with the heat retention.

Don't buy Select Comfort, as their version is inferior and twice the price. I got the ComfortAire online through a dealer in New York for very cheap, and live close enough to the factory that we just drove there and picked it up. If you're not near Greenville, SC, the shipping is not very expensive.
posted by ewagoner at 7:31 AM on May 6, 2005

We've had this for 4 months, and i can't recommend it highly enough. I used to wake frequently throughout the night, but now i am sleeping much more soundly and without waking.
posted by battlecj at 8:50 AM on May 6, 2005

I'm very happy with my Tempur-pedic mattress.
posted by me3dia at 9:33 AM on May 6, 2005

I'll just add if you live in an area where there is a Costco, you can special order through them and save a TON of money. I think some stores are now stocking the higher end mattresses so you don't even have to order. We tried out mattresses in regular mattress stores, found what we liked concerning firmness, ordered a nice Sealy through Costco, and they delivered it. Five years later, we still think it's one of the best things we ever spent money on.
posted by lobakgo at 9:36 AM on May 6, 2005

Hmm...I can't sleep when it's too warm and I've never noticed a problem with heat retention on my memory foam mattress vs. a standard mattress.

As for other activities, I find it just as easy to read in my memory foam bed and I think I prefer sex on the platform bed with a little less give and ridiculous bounciness of a standard mattress.
posted by aaronh at 9:46 AM on May 6, 2005

I have a had an Englander Latex mattress for 5 years. Damn comfy, but it does get toasty. I wouldn't recommend it for a warm climate.
Recently I spent a night at a new Sheraton hotel. They make a big deal about their beds being specially designed. If I could trade my Latex for that Sheraton bed, I'd do it in a heartbeat. That was an awesomely comfortable bed.
posted by gnz2001 at 9:54 AM on May 6, 2005

Check out this site for reviews and information and this one for memory foam and latex toppers and beds. The great thing about sites like the foam mail order ones is that even though you can't try them out first, you can return them if you don't like them, and adapt the firmness as you figure out what you need. A good topper can cheaply transform a terrible bed.
posted by xammerboy at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2005

I built a memory foam mattress for about $250.

Used a 5lb density pad from http://stores.ebay.com/Foam-Factory-Inc_W0QQsspagenameZl2QQtZkm

And used a 3" firm and a 3" extra-firm polyurethane pad from JCPenney
http://www.jcpenney.com, search for mattress toppers

The mattress is fantastic. I highly recommend it.
posted by sirion at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2005 [2 favorites]

sirion, did you glue the different layers together? Was it easy to build? I like the idea of making a nice mattress for a price like that.
posted by 6550 at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2005

Two words: McRoskey Airflex. You spend a huge portion of your life in bed. An excellent mattress is worth it!
posted by jasper411 at 11:39 AM on May 6, 2005

We've has our sleep number bed for about six months, and I'll never go back to a normal bed. I love it because I can change the firmness whenever I feel like it. When my back is acting up I can make it firmer than I normally like to relieve the ache and when it's gone I can go back to super squishy.

I can't say enought great things about this bed.
posted by Mamapotomus at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2005

Just got a mattress and box spring from a friend who downsized and doesn't have a guest room any more. As long as it's not too soft, I'm pretty happy, but this mattress /boxspring combo makes a lot of noise. You might want to pay attention to that during testing.
posted by theora55 at 1:36 PM on May 6, 2005

Another advocate for the memory foam topper, here. As far as mattresses go, Tempurpedic is the best I've ever slept on but is certainly priced that way, and their topper is at the top end of the price chain as well. So, I bought this, the 3-inch baby, and it's been unbelievably comfortable. I don't know if the extra inch made any remarkable difference, having not tried the other kind, but it's fantastic. It doesn't shift, either -- at all. My sheets are all the fitted deep-pocket kind, and in my experience that's enough tension to hold it in place.

The other thing I did that really helped was improving my bedframe. I have a brass bed without supporting slats, and so I went to Home Depot, had some slats cut from 2-inch plywood, and that extra support helps the mattress to really stay put.

In sum: if it's in your budget, go for Tempurpedic. If not, the topper is well worth it.
posted by melissa may at 4:39 PM on May 6, 2005

Y'know, Serta is stamped all over my new memory foam mattress and box-spring set, and it cost about 1/2 what Tempurpedic would have charged me, but darned if Serta doesn't list the thing on their website.

Once you've changed your mattress, encover it with some Egyptian cotton sheets. Mmmmmmmm.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:22 PM on May 6, 2005

If you like a firm conventional mattress, check out the Sealy Posturepedic extra firm line. They change the name from year to year, but it is always named after a variety of wine grape.

That's what I like. I loathe pillow tops, memory foam, or anything that squishes. I occasionally sleep on the (wooden) floor just to put my back right.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:41 AM on May 7, 2005

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