Tips to help you toss, turn less about mattress shop­ping

Rest eas­ier with these tips to find the best and most com­fort­able mattress for your own re­quire­ments

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - ELIS­A­BETH LEAMY

The only thing more ex­haust­ing than sleep­ing on a bad mattress is shop­ping for a new one. First, you have to with­stand mattress sales­peo­ple — with al­most as much pres­sure as shop­ping for a car. Then, you can’t re­ally com­pare choices among stores be­cause man­u­fac­tur­ers make pro­pri­etary mattress mod­els for each. And fi­nally, there are the frus­trat­ing war­ranties, which don’t cover most of the things that go wrong with mat­tresses.

Mattress shop­ping will never be dreamy, but you can make it eas­ier. As a reporter, when I strug­gle to write a story, I go back to the “five Ws and an H” taught in jour­nal­ism school: who, what, where, when, why and how. Those same guide­posts can help me write this mattress-shop­ping ar­ti­cle — and help you choose a mattress.

WHO

You, if you wake up stiff or achy. That’s a good in­di­ca­tion that you need a new mattress. If you find that you al­ways sleep bet­ter and feel more re­freshed af­ter a night in a ho­tel, that’s an­other sign.

WHEN

Ex­perts say mat­tresses wear out about every 10 years. Of course, that can vary based on the qual­ity of your mattress. It can also vary based on the qual­ity of your body! Some ex­perts sug­gest that peo­ple over age 40 re­place their mat­tresses every five to seven years, be­cause we need bet­ter sup­port and are more sus­cep­ti­ble to pres­sure on our joints.

WHERE

Many peo­ple de­fault to a chain mattress store or a depart­ment store, which tend to carry the most main­stream mattress brands — many of which, it seems, be­gin with an S. But these days there are other op­tions, in­clud­ing on­line mattress stores and mak­ers, high-end sleep shops, and lo­cal mattress stores. The mattress-ad­vice web­site The Mattress Un­der­ground (the­mat­tres­sun­der­ground.com) sug­gests buy­ing from lo­cal mattress man­u­fac­tur­ers, an­other valid op­tion.

I rec­om­mend shop­ping around with three types of sell­ers to ed­u­cate your­self: one chain or depart­ment store, one on­line store and one other. Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests you lie on each mattress for at least 15 min­utes, be­cause its testers found that the same mattress they liked af­ter 15 min­utes was the one that they liked af­ter a month.

Once you’ve shopped around, buy from a store with a gen­er­ous re­turn pol­icy. That way if, af­ter fol­low­ing all of the steps here, you’re still not happy, you have an out. Many mattress chains, depart­ment stores and ware­house stores al­low mattress re­turns now. And most on­line mattress sell­ers do be­cause they re­al­ize that you have no way of test­ing their mat­tresses be­fore you buy them. Make a note of any store’s re­quired time frame and also ask about re­stock­ing fees and who is re­spon­si­ble for the ef­fort and cost of get­ting the mattress back to the store.

WHY

You’re prob­a­bly go­ing to spend one-third of the next decade on this mattress. Even though this all may seem time-con­sum­ing, it’s worth the ef­fort.

WHAT

There are four main types of mat­tresses, and which you choose is purely pref­er­ence: in­ner­spring, mem­ory foam, la­tex or ad­justable air. That said, some types tend to work well for peo­ple with cer­tain body types or sleep styles.

Here are the Good House­keep­ing In­sti­tute’s rec­om­men­da­tions for who might like what:

In­ner­spring: This is the clas­sic mattress, with metal coils in­side and tick­ing near the sur­face. In­ner­springs can be very af­ford­able. The metal coils are usu­ally avail­able from 12 to 18 gauge. The higher the num­ber, the thin­ner and bouncier the spring. Heav­ier peo­ple have been known to pre­fer a lower num­ber/thicker gauge. To cut down on move­ment by a bed part­ner, choose an in­ner­spring with pock­eted, in­di­vid­ual coils. They are cov­ered in fab­ric to re­duce move­ment from one side of the bed to the other. Many in­ner­spring mat­tresses have “pil­low tops,” but ex­perts cau­tion that if this layer is thicker than an inch, it will soon sag and de­velop an­noy­ing body in­den­ta­tions. Best for: those who like an af­ford­able, bouncy-feel­ing mattress. Mem­ory foam: These mat­tresses are made of vis­coelas­tic polyurethane foam built over a poly­foam core. Mem­ory foam mat­tresses are known for re­duc­ing pres­sure on your body. They pro­vide a very still feel. Sleep­ers tend to sink into the foam a bit and be cra­dled in one po­si­tion. That cradling and the type of foam can cause some peo­ple to heat up as they sleep. The Good House­keep­ing In­sti­tute says the mem­ory foam layer usu­ally varies from two to six inches thick and that the deeper it is, the more you’ll sink. Ask about the thick­ness and also the den­sity. Den­sity is mea­sured in pounds per cu­bic foot, with three pounds be­ing lower qual­ity and five pounds higher, ac­cord­ing to the Good House­keep­ing In­sti­tute. If you are con­cerned about the fact that this type of mattress is made from a chem­i­cal process, then look for one that has passed Cer­tipur or Oeko-Tex test­ing, which means it does not give off ex­ces­sive chem­i­cals. Best for: side sleep­ers and other peo­ple who want to re­duce pres­sure, par­tic­u­larly on the shoul­ders and hips. La­tex: La­tex is a nat­u­rally de­rived ma­te­rial from rub­ber trees. La­tex mat­tresses are unique in that they can feel very soft and yet also springy and up­lift­ing. There are two man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods: Dun­lop, which is denser and firmer, and Talalay, which is softer and springier. Some­times the two are lay­ered to­gether. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers blend or layer la­tex on top of man-made foam but still la­bel the mattress as “la­tex.” All-nat­u­ral la­tex mat­tresses are more ex­pen­sive than some other types. La­tex mat­tresses are com­mon in Europe and grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in the U.S., es­pe­cially on­line and in high-end sleep shops. Best for: peo­ple seek­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and strong sup­port. Ad­justable air: Air beds use air as their sup­port core and then more tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als such as foam or tick­ing as the com­fort layer, closer to your body. The air pres­sure is ad­justable, so you can choose a firmer or softer feel at any time and main­tain a dif­fer­ent mattress firm­ness from your sleep­ing part­ner. Con­trary to what you may think based on ad­ver­tis­ing, sev­eral com­pa­nies make and sell ad­justable air beds. Cer­tain air beds have per­formed very well in Con­sumer Re­ports mattress test­ing, but be aware that con­sumers have had prob­lems with mould, noise and me­chan­i­cal fail­ure with some makes and mod­els. Best for: cou­ples with very dif­fer­ent tastes in mat­tresses.

HOW

When you shop for a mattress, you should hag­gle. Yes, it’s sim­i­lar to shop­ping for a car in more ways than one. Ne­go­ti­at­ing at chain mattress stores is rou­tine, and you should be able to get 20 per cent to 50 per cent off. But even at high­end stores and on­line stores, you can of­ten cut a deal by re­quest­ing a re­cent sale price or ask­ing them to throw in ex­tras. At the very least, go for free de­liv­ery and pickup of your old mattress. And, fi­nally, write a “no sub­sti­tu­tions” clause into your con­tract so that af­ter do­ing all this work you can rest easy, know­ing you got the mattress you ac­tu­ally wanted. For the Wash­ing­ton Post

GETTY IM­AGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

You’re likely to spend one-third of the next decade on your mattress. Even though mattress shop­ping may seem time-con­sum­ing, it’s worth the ef­fort.

LUKE SHARRETT/BLOOMBERG

Sealy and Serta Sim­mons mat­tresses are dis­played for sale. Many mattress shop­pers de­fault to a chain store or a depart­ment store and main­stream brands — most of which be­gin with an S.

GETTY IM­AGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Af­ter pick­ing sev­eral sell­ers, Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests that you go to each seller to test out the mattress. Ly­ing down on your choice of mattress for at least 15 min­utes is rec­om­mended.

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