Mattress me, MeFi.
March 14, 2016 1:20 AM   Subscribe

It's been over a decade since I bought a mattress. I'm in the market now. Apparently, memory foam is a thing now? Where do I even begin this process and does anybody have personal recommendations? Preferences inside.

I have a queen-sized platform bed on the way, but no mattress to accompany it yet. My current mattress is too big, kind of tired, and was purchased over a decade ago when I was in my early 20s, had a much lower budget, and lived in a smallish town where there only a few places to buy mattresses. Now, I live in San Francisco, there are many (too many!) places to buy mattresses, and budget is not really a concern. It seems since my last purchase, there's been an explosion in the popularity of memory foam mattresses and there's an overwhelming number of choices. I tend to be a fairly mobile side-sleeper with a preference for firm-ish mattresses. I tried a few memory foam mattress at DWR, where I purchased the bed, but they only carried one brand and it seems like something as highly subjective as sleeping preferences deserves a bit of comparison shopping. The DWR mattresses were... different from what I'm used to, but not terrible. However, in my limited experiences with actually sleeping on memory foam, the foam was overly soft and I did not enjoy how restrictive it felt once I had sunk into it a bit. Also, sex on memory foam seems to have a running-on-the-beach sort of quality to it, where everything feels like it takes more effort than it should.

1) Should I take memory foam seriously?
2) Any tips for where I should start shopping and where I should avoid, particularly in SF and the surrounding area? I'd like to avoid buying online.
3) Do you have high praise or deep distrust for any particular brands/models? Please, share!
posted by strangecargo to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This review and ratings and explanation site is awesome and will help you.

Know what? If you have an IKEA, you can try every type and combination of mattress under the sun. Mine has a giant wall with cross sections so you can see what's inside. This will help you pick the TYPE of mattress you are looking for. (Most IKEA mattresses actually get find ratings, but you might want something more high end.)
posted by jbenben at 1:31 AM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

"The Sleep Council" is an industry body based in the UK. They have published a guide to buying beds and mattresses here (pdf). Some of the details will be region specific - but I suspect many are not. During my search for a bed and mattress a couple of months ago, this was one of the best sources of information I found. For example they describe the various construction techniques used and why those might make a difference.

You might also appreciate these people who tested out mattresses for sex.
posted by rongorongo at 2:53 AM on March 14, 2016

Head on down to your McRoskey Store there is SF. Old fashioned mattress design, well executed, in house manufactured, flippable, ours has lasted years. Pricey though, but you get what you pay for (apt use for that cliche). I put together a "Franken-bed, Sealy low spring base with a Sealy medium mattress, then McRoskey medium mattress with a foam topper. Not exactly low profile but wow, comfortable. McRoskey of international fame(or rumor). Avoid the firm, and the soft is soft.
posted by WinstonJulia at 3:01 AM on March 14, 2016

I'm fairly happy with my Tuft & Needle, and i see it recommended on here quite often. They have a 100 night trial as well (you don't have to pay for shipping back if you need to return).
posted by pyro979 at 3:28 AM on March 14, 2016

The Sweethome (awesome product testing/comparison site) is currently finishing up a big mattress test -- I would wait until they have finished and then see what they recommend for different types of sleepers. Their recommendations have never steered me wrong.
posted by ethorson at 4:42 AM on March 14, 2016

My suggestion is once you narrow it down to the mattress you think you want, go away over the weekend and sleep on one.

Here's a listing by hotel of what kind of beds they use.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:11 AM on March 14, 2016

Personally, I'm a fan of "test driving" your mattress. The only way to know for sure is to go lie down on one.

Having said that, I highly recommend the Simmons Beautyrest with maximum pillow top. That's what my wife and I have been sleeping on for 10 years.

One thing about memory foam is that it won't dissipate heat well. I sleep "hot" so memory foam tends to trap sweat beneath me. Just something to consider.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:18 AM on March 14, 2016

Costco has a great selection of memory foam mattresses. I have two Novaform Serafina models...CalKing and Queen and love them both (ex has CalKing). While it wouldn't be easy, Costco does have a great return policy. The Ex was worried about the heat issue of memory foam but it wasn't an issue. My back complains loudly when I sleep on anything else.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:34 AM on March 14, 2016

You're a side sleeper with a preference for firm mattresses who likes to move around at night and has found memory foam too squishy and restrictive in the past? Don't get memory foam.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:49 AM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I sleep on a memory foam mattress I sink down into the mattress and wake up in a puddle of sweat because they trap heat. Maybe newer ones are better at preventing this - we haven't shopped for a bed in about 9 years.

The thing I always recommend to anyone bed shopping is to go to the store and lie down on every single mattress you're interested in. If there will be someone else in the bed with you on a regular basis, take them so you can try out the mattresses together. Beds that I found perfectly acceptable were uncomfortable to my wife, and vice versa. Being able to test them together allowed us to find one that worked for both of us.
posted by ralan at 6:49 AM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing this: When I sleep on a memory foam mattress I sink down into the mattress and wake up in a puddle of sweat because they trap heat. Maybe newer ones are better at preventing this - we haven't shopped for a bed in about 9 years.

We have a wool mattress pad *and* an egg carton style topper *and* bamboo sheets to try to prevent this. I believe that ralan is right - there can be a cooling layer now on memory foam, but there wasn't in 2007 when we got our mattress set.
posted by getawaysticks at 7:38 AM on March 14, 2016

About the cooling layer. We recently went shopping for a mattress (approx 2 years ago) and when the sales guy found out that I am a hot sleeper ie I emit a lot of heat when I sleep he said to not get the memory foam but instead there was this other cooler foam product that they had. They had a sample of this foam treated with a colour changing dye and when you placed your hand on it the memory foam side would retain the hand print, but the other side would not. I tried it and while the newer foam did lose the hand print faster it still left a noticeable print. After seeing that the guy said that he hand't ever seen a hand print on that foam so we probably shouldn't go with that either and instead went for a traditional sprung mattress.

So if you're a hot sleeper don't even try the memory foam.
posted by koolkat at 8:01 AM on March 14, 2016

I'm also a side sleeper and the Casper has been great for me. Like Tuft & Needle, they have a 100-night return policy.
posted by torridly at 8:02 AM on March 14, 2016

Generally speaking, synthetic mattress materials don't breath very well while natural fibers do and that is what leads to your bed acting as a heat trap.

Some memory foam mattress address this by adding channels from the top surface to the sides so it can breath. The other way to address it is to put layers of natural fibers between you and then mattress.

We put a feather bed on top of our memory foam mattress and then a 100% cotton mattress pad over than. Before the feather bed, we used both the cotton pad and a wool one under it, once we added the feather bed, the wool pad was unnecessary. I still get a little bit of heat-trap effect but it's not too bad. The "cooling gel" type products work fine for me when I first get in bed but they always feel hot when I wake up.

I really like the memory foam because it transfers a lot less motion when either of us changes position. There was a bit of an adjustment period but I really like that it doesn't bounce. Ours is as soft as they come and I really like sinking down into it but that same model came in several different firmness-es. The firmest ones were plenty firm.

Latex is supposed to be similar in feel to memory foam but is a natural material so it's supposed to breath better. is a great resource for mattresses, pillows, sheets, and just about anything else related to sleep.
posted by VTX at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2016

Nthing the fact that if you sleep hot poly foam mattresses probably aren't for you.

There was a similar question a few months ago, with a lot of great information in the responses. Here's my two sense.
posted by givennamesurname at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2016

Based on a previous question, we went with a Shifman. They are pricey but very well made and flipable!!. I think we ended up paying about $1200-$1300 for a lower end one on sale at Bloomingdales. For a 20+ year expected lifetime, should be worth it. (We're only a couple of years in, but so far so good.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:51 AM on March 14, 2016

Latex mattress! Firm but not hard, doesn't sag, doesn't suck you in or trap heat like memory foam, doesn't bounce when the other person rolls over. I've had mine for about 5 years and there is no trace of a butt divot, plus it has a 20 year guarantee. I just put on an extra-cushy mattress pad for a pillow top effect, and I'm in heaven every night.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:58 AM on March 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

We have a purchased a couple of Keetsa mattresses and have been happy with them. It's worth checking out, and they have a location in San Francisco. I initially found them looking for recommendations for a mattress that I didn't need to pay delivery for or have to buy with a box spring. The mattresses come vacuum sealed into a box that I could fit on the backseat of my Corolla.
posted by JenMarie at 11:38 AM on March 14, 2016

We have been quite happy with our online order from Casper, and before that we've had decent luck at Costco. I hate mattress showrooms - their only purpose is to progressively upsell you to more expensive models.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:40 PM on March 14, 2016

European Sleepworks in Berkeley. Pricey, but they last forever: Mine is going on 13 years with no sag or loss of comfort. They use a slat system rather than a box spring, which is great.
posted by ejs at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2016

I am a hot side sleeper who hates feeling restricted. Memory foam is awful for me. Instead we have a no-longer made Ikea matress with a latex topper. It's firm, and has a natural cover so it stays cool. We're thinking about getting a new matress, and the next will be latex as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2016

My body refuses to properly relax on memory foam and I never found any other cotton ticking or foam that gave me the support I need (never tried latex though). Frustrated, I recently cheaped out and got a basic coil spring with thin layer of padding. It's the sort of bed I had growing up. I'm sleeping better than I have in 3o years.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:50 PM on March 14, 2016

Seconding a latex mattress. Best sleep ever.

Definitely go somewhere that has good attentive customer service. When Mrs. Sauce and I went to buy a bed, we got a very helpful salesperson who efficiently found our beloved new bed with some optometrist-style A/B testing.

(and thanks for the reminder, I have to rotate my mattress tonight)
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:33 PM on March 14, 2016

Costco has a great selection of memory foam mattresses. I have two Novaform Serafina models...

FWIW, Costco currently have $100 off the Novaform ComfortGrande models; we bought one yesterday and like it already. Comes tightly vacuum-packed in a big box, which meant it fit into the car to get it home.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:50 PM on March 14, 2016

I hate bed buying more than car buying. I am from Africa where beds are made very sturdily with few options (size + if you are lucky a choice of 3 softnesses) and where in 300 years time your relatives will probably still be using the same bed.

Now I am in America and its just horrible - they name them differently across different stores so you can't compare prices, they are ridiculously expensive, they are such poor quality that they can have whole sections that randomly collapse (even giant chunks where you put your feet!), sometimes foul-smelling materials that make you sweat too, and they have return policies that sound good but in reality you will have to pay some person to come to your house who will then jiggle your bed and it is then judged fine because it "looks" flat even though you can push it to the base with a fingertip in that spot (and there are web sites that tell you how to actually use bed warranties using giant bags of flour or weights etc to make them qualify)!

It doesn't matter how much you research, buying a bed seems more random than ever. No matter how much you pay, if you are normal weight or more then you have a good chance you will only be able to use it for 5 years or less before its all lumpy or caved in. This seems deliberate as it isn't like this in the rest of the world. I have decided to buy semi-random cheaper beds off reputable sites like sears, overstock and amazon (when sales are on if possible) in future. That way if I hate them then it at least wasn't another really expensive lesson, and I can just plan to replace them every 2-5 years.
posted by meepmeow at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am also a side-sleeper who runs a little hot at night. I used Sleep Like The Dead's Latex Mattress Reviews after settling on latex to find the DreamFoam brand. Bought it for $560 and realized it was a little too firm. A $150 gel mattress topper got me the cushion I was looking for. Also, I use a bamboo mattress protector which I think has some heat wicking properties. It's been a good value pickup for me all around.
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:51 AM on March 15, 2016

Response by poster: Alright. An update:

Since I'm currently funemployed, I have a lot of time on my hands to go mattress shopping. I managed to try out a lot of peoples' suggestions, and then some. McKroskey turned out to be mostly uncomfortable and the feeling of their mattresses was highly dependent on what you put under them (a mattress over a box spring felt completely different from the same mattress on slats, etc). The best thing I could say about the memory foam mattresses I tried (Keetsa, Tuft & Loom) was that they felt... mostly okay? I was leaning towards one of Room and Board's encased coil mattresses for a moment, but I was a little hesitant; while I liked the general feel, the construction made them really squishy near the edges, which I didn't enjoy. It wasn't until I tried a Kluft at Bloomingdale's that I had a truly epiphanic "yes, this one!" sort of moment. The particular model I settled on was the Bristol, which has given me some wonderful sleep since it was delivered. The only downsides to the mattress are that it was pricier than everything else that I looked at (~$3k), and that it's very thick and looks a little odd on my platform bed.
posted by strangecargo at 12:00 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

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