"My ribs hurt!" "I feel better sleeping on the couch or recliner." "I hate getting into that bed." "I never get a decent sleep, I think the bed needs to be replaced." These are all comments that have been mentioned in my home, more and more often, and I think it's almost time to get a new mattress.

The foam mattress in question is going on it's 6th year and has acquired hills and valleys. A standard mattress should be good for up to 8 years and a premium mattress can be in good shape up to ten years or more. Just like finding a place to live is all about location, location, location. Finding a good mattress is all about comfort, comfort comfort.

Flickr/CC - Krystn Palmer Photography
Now that I have mentally agreed that the bed must be replaced, it is time to research mattresses to get the best quality for my money. There are so many choices; do you go air, foam or spring mattress? And if you do a foam mattress, how thick? How many coils per square foot? Or maybe I should only look at water beds?

Surprising how such a perceived small investment can become confusing. But considering we spend at least 6 - 8 hours of our day in one and need it to make us feel better for the remaining 2/3 of the day, it is a decision we don't want to think cheaply about.

Before I even start laying down on beds for 15 minutes at a time in my favorite sleeping position, I need to determine what mattress is best for my favorite sleeping position.
According to ConsumerReports: "A study published in 2003 in the British medical journal Lancet suggested that people who suffer from lower back pain would benefit from a medium-firm mattress. That made sense to several experts we interviewed. If a mattress is too firm, it won't support the body evenly and may cause discomfort at the heaviest points (hips and shoulders). If it's too soft, a sleeper could sink into the surface and have a hard time moving, which could cause tingling, numbness, or aches."
I sleep on my side and occasionally my stomach and back, so the cushioning of my side of the bed would vary and my partner sleeps in a fetal position or on her side (thanks to 7 back surgeries) and if the bed is too soft she really does have a hard time moving and aches in the morning.

One idea I am looking into is a sleep number bed to adjust it as needed. The downside is that you can't flip the bed around to make it last longer and you start with a higher price mark right away. I just have to remember that a $3000 bed over the course of 8 years is a dollar a night and even less if I bought a foam or inner spring mattress in the $1000 range.
According to consumer reports: "Seventy-eight percent of those who spent more than $4,000 said they were highly satisfied with their purchase. But 66 percent of those who spent less than $1,000 were also highly satisfied."
 Some rules to go by when shopping for a bed are based on experience and the consumer "bible", Consumer Reports.

1. Try it out in the store: Before I bought my current bed, I slept on it in the store for about 10 minutes. As weird as it felt sleeping in front of people, it is very well worth the time.
"Seventy-two percent of those who invested at least 10 minutes (for instance, lying down on each side, back, and stomach) were highly satisfied with their mattress purchase compared with 62 percent who didn't."
2. Guarantees, Trials and Fees: Find out what the return policy is, can you return the mattress after a 28 day trial or is it only a 10 day try out? What is the restocking fee or pickup fee if you do return it? One suggestion if you do send it back is to take a picture of it when they pick it up, that way you have proof it is in good condition as they are carting it out if the company gives you flack.


3. Keep up on Sales and Haggle: There are always sales on mattresses and besides comparing prices between stores, also compare prices to their own online site. Sometimes you can use the online price to barter with if it is lower than the store price.
Again consumer reports states: "The suggested retail price of a mattress is pure fiction. Discounts of 50 percent or more are common. In our survey, only 36 percent of respondents tried haggling. Among those who tried, 72 percent got a lower price."
4. Rip the Tag, Rip the Warranty: If you have trial period on a bed and you don't like it after 26 nights, but you have ripped off the tag, the bed is yours to keep. One way to get around the warranty issue below is to use a bed cover for the trial period to keep stains away from the mattress if you should need to return it.
"Some warranties don't cover full replacement value; instead an annual usage charge is deducted from the current retail price.
When you make a claim, the store or manufacturer sends an inspector to your house. You'll need to show a receipt. If you say the mattress has sagged, the inspector checks whether the dip is below the allowable limit, 1 1/2 inches. A company will void a warranty if you remove the "do not remove" tag, if the mattress is soiled, or if it has uneven support from a box spring or frame--a common reason for sagging, says Stan Steinreich, a Simmons spokesman."
5. Read Reviews: Once I have things narrowed down to one or two types of beds I like to read the reviews of them. People are always more willing to give up information on how bad things are, so I try to take in the complaints in the light that some things may be more personalized. But an overall continuous complain on structure would draw me in.

Overall, I think I have what I need and it is just a matter of going out in person to test them out. I'll put on some comfy clothes and slip-on shoes to make it a nice experience as I figure out what is comfortable.


h/t to the consumer "bible" on mattresses (some paid areas)

5 Comments

  1. Innahouse // Wednesday, January 26, 2011 2:44:00 PM  

    Do you have an IKEA store nearby? They have more than a dozen beds to try out in their mattress department......innerspring, memory foam, latex foam and others...and some foam mattresses are boxed up in a container that can fit in a trunk or rolled so it could fit across front to back. Of course, that isn't including the foundation (box spring, etc.). Just a thought........

  2. Will @ HackingTheBank.com // Friday, January 28, 2011 10:55:00 AM  

    When I moved into my new place in August my girlfriend and I had to buy a lot of furniture, so we went pretty cheap on the best. We actually got our king bed for less than $400 online. We were skeptical. It actually came vacuum packed in a box. However, surprisingly, it has served us well. There are definitely better beds out there, but for the price it gets the job done. We'll be looking to upgrade in a few years because I know how much a good bed can help with sleep. You can find similar deals online with foam beds, but that won't give you the opportunity to try them in the store. However, you can save quite a large amount because you aren't paying the salesperson's salary and showroom overhead expenses.

  3. Dawn // Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:36:00 PM  

    @innahouse
    They are building one in the metro area, but I don't know when or where. But it IS something to check out when they open up.

    @Will
    Definitely have to check them out in person, one thing I can't buy online for

  4. CHANDA // Monday, February 07, 2011 4:58:00 AM  

    Don't I just know that feeling of the 'have seen better days mattress'

    Two tips to already well researched and written article:

    1. Don't forget to try out the mattress together with your partner.
    2. To ensure that the size will be perfect for you and your partner, put your hands behind your head as you lie down. You know you will have sufficient space if your elbows do not touch.

    I am sure both you and your partner will be sleeping like Sleeping Beauty especially if you go for the dual chamber design which will eliminate transfer motion, a perfect addition for your partner. http://www.best-mattress-4u.com has reviews on different types of beds

  5. Dawn // Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:59:00 PM  

    @Chanda
    Wish we could bring the dog with us as she is the one that sleeps horizontal between us. LOL!