Help with buying a mattress

It’s time to replace my 20+ year old mattress and I really don’t have a clue where to start. I don’t recall buying the last one - I mean, I recall the day; one doesn’t purchase a mattress in a blackout - but I only have the vaguest recollection of sitting or possibly laying on it and . . . that’s about it. I’m sure money was a huge factor, and of course then I had a back that was twenty years younger and not too picky.

Are there any specific things to look for or avoid? Good or bad brands or vendors? I’m pretty sure I don’t want a memory foam one as they seem hot, and also, I don’t believe you can turn them over (?) Ditto the pillow top varieties (unless of course I’m wrong about those two features). I thank you; my aching back thanks you.

I’m going to be watching this thread because we’re having the same issue :slight_smile:

Seriously, though, I’ve heard mixed reviews on everything from standard coil to memory foam to Sleep Number. There doesn’t seem to be one particular brand that stands out far and above the rest AFAIK.

We’re about to replace our almost-dead king mattress with a pair of XL twins because we have very different preferences. In fact, for the last 10 years or so, I’ve had a memory foam topper on my half, making that side of the bed 3" taller and giving me issues with some of my less generous sheets. Spousal unit likes really firm beds, I like the memory foam. So if all goes well, we’ll each get what we like, and the mattress pad and sheets will make the two feel like one bed. And we’ll sleep happily ever after.

But I’m concerned about making the right choices - you really can’t tell from a half a minute of awkwardness in the showroom. And I’m pretty sure they discourage naps on their displays. Last mattress we bought was a pillowtop for our guest room, and I hate it - you can see where it’s sagging in the middle, and you can’t flip it over. So I’m reading reviews on line and hoping for the best. Also hoping we don’t have to take out a second mortgage to get a decent sleep.

The high-end Tempur-Pedic mattresses get high marks for helping with back issues, but they are ridiculously expensive (up to $8000). Sleep number gets bad reviews for motor noise and air leaks. This website looks to be unbiased in its testing and reviews, and generally says that an inner coil spring mattress is as good as any.

I bought a new conventional spring mattress a couple of years ago after the traditional, awkward two or three minutes testing each mattress in the showroom while fully dressed and in shoes. I’m reasonably satisfied, but it is a weird system. (I ended up with a mattress with 800 springs, which was neither the lowest nor the highest number of springs available.) Some of the hotel chains now advertise that they have this or that brand-name mattress in their rooms, so perhaps you might buy one you slept on well. (Some hotel chains will sell you the mattress, or the mattress and all of the bedlinens as the rooms are equipped.)

There are several companies out there (Casper, Tuft & Needle, Saatva, Yogabed, Leesa, etc) that sell mattresses via websites and deliver them via UPS/Fedex/freight in big cardboard boxes. These are, generally, the memory foam mattresses without springs, so they’re able to compress the mattress to fit the big cardboard box. Once you unpack the mattress, it slowly expands to the final space. I saw an interview with the CEO of one of these companies; his argument was that most people are satisfied with the medium level of firmness provided by the typical hotel mattress, so that’s all he sells.

I happen to have a mattress by one of the companies listed and it’s considered a “firm” mattress. I love it, and it was far cheaper than store options. I did stop by a store for laughs and the salesperson did mention that 90% of people like a firm mattress. I’ve also heard advice that you can just get foam padding for the top if you’re not pleased with the softness of the mattress, so that you can really just go with firm every time and make adjustments that way. I do hear that the all-foam mattresses sleep a little hotter, but choosing a nice mattress cover fixed that for me.

Hotel mattresses are awful now, though. Now that I have a new mattress and it’s plenty firm and supported, I go to a hotel and immediately notice how all the beds sag in the middle from wear. Even the nice hotels – eugh.

Assuming I could get the old mattress out of my house and down to the curb (I think my city has a program to pick them up) how hard are they to handle as? It does say they are lighter so that part is good. It also says they puff up after you unpack them. How long does that take? It would never occur to me to buy one online and have it shipped (mostly because I’ll be doing everything myself).

My wife bought an antique bed a couple of month’s ago. No standard sized mattresses would fit so I special ordered one from

  1. Make sure that you know what size mattress and box springs that you need. Measure carefully.

  2. I could have paid extra to have the mattress installed, but the wife and I could handle carrying them up the stairs.

  3. We actually had two sets of mattresses and box springs to get rid of. My city picked them up for $45 plus some other large junk that we needed to dispose of.

  4. The bed is in the guest’s bedroom so we really didn’t worry too much about how the mattress felt. Our guests only stay a day or two usually.

  5. It was a standard mattress/box springs combination. So it didn’t have to inflate like Dewey Finn’s.

Having said all that, it it wasn’t for the special size needs, I would have bought at a local store. (1) You get to try out the mattress in the showroom. (2) Delivery, setup, and removal of the old mattress is usually pretty cheap or thrown in as part of the deal. (3) I like supporting local people when possible.

Above all, do not say “mattress” to Mr. Lambert.

I don’t know if they’re common in your area, but if so, avoid the stand-alone discount mattress stores. The local news did a report on them; undercover cameras showed that they recycle used mattresses and box springs by ripping off and replacing the covers, then wrapping them in plastic as if new. They even put a new (fake) mattress tag on it.

The innards they re-purposed…some were pretty disgusting. Mystery stains, broken springs, one even had bedbugs.

One of the stores they featured is a two-minute walk from my house. The story aired over a year ago and it’s still in business.

Casper, one of the online sellers, actually has a “showroom” in NYC (I think it was on Bond St downtown). I went there and tried their bed out (they sell one bed in different sizes). I liked it a lot and left to my own devices would have bought it, but the wife did not want to go to the city to try it or buy unseen online. We ended up going to Raymour and Flanigan and were reasonably satisfied but paid a good deal more.

There is a site called The Mattress Underground that will give you far more information than you ever want to know. It will make you more knowledgeable about the components of mattresses, but I am not sure how much it will help you buy the right mattress for you. They generally recommend going to local mattress makers as they often use higher quality materials than the big boys. That is fine if you know exactly what you want in a mattress. I find that knowing what you want is the hard part.

When I ask for recommendations on a forum like this, I often want someone to say “Buy (specific brand and model)”. That does not work with a mattress.

“And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s green…”

-via William Blake, Sir Hubert Parry and Monty Python

Ewwwwwwww. I remember hearing about this, though I don’t recall exactly which store it was. I recognized it as a local one and thought to myself “sure am glad I don’t have to but a mattress any time soon” :smack:

Thank you ethelbert, I will peruse that site. I know what you mean as far as needing to find the right mattress myself but this is a good start.

One of our main concerns is price. We simply can’t afford a mortgage for a top-of-the-line mattress or even half of one. I realize there’s a “what you pay for is what you get” thing in mattresses (it’s a reason why we’ve turned down IKEA). OTOH we’ve seen mattresses in our price range at both Costco and BJ’s but we’re very leery of buying them because there’s no way to try them out, much less get them home.

The right mattress is priceless.

If the one you need seems too expensive, first try to find economies somewhere else.

You dont need the latest/fanciest/biggest [insert consumer good]

You do need a good nights sleep.

The foam mattresses that come vacuum packed come in a box about 16 x 16 x however wide your mattress is (so with a Queen, a 16" x 16" x 62" box or so). I bought a Queen and it is 60 lbs. So two people can handle it up the stairs and around bends and such. Set everything up BEFORE you take the mattress out. Get your frame and whatever else set up already and then open the box. Then get the mattress sort of in place (it’ll be curly) and then pop one of the corners and get the plastic off. It’ll puff right up to full mattress size and it’ll be as annoying as a full mattress to move after that, which is why you wanted to position it where you wanted it to begin with. It looks totally expanded within 10 minutes but they recommend 24 hours. I slept on it within 6 hours of unpacking and it felt totally fine and no different than it did the next day.

It’s been 1.5 years and the mattress doesn’t look or act any different than the day I bought it. Mine has a 10 year guarantee, anyway, so it better.

Good to know. Sounds kind of cumbersome but I’m a pretty determined little cuss.

For what it’s worth.

One night I folded up a blanked to make a cushion under my hips, and slept on the floor next to my bed. Just to see if I could do it, and get used to the idea if I ever had to. The first couple of nights, I had to learn to shape my posture to avoid bony discomfort, and after that, I slept great. A couple of weeks later, I threw my bed and mattress away.

That was five years ago, I was 72. I never wake up with any back discomfort. I don’t need a mattress, I’m fine without one. Maybe you don’t need one, either.

If you try it, learn how to get up properly. Roll over onto all-fours, get your feet under you, roll back onto your feet, and stand up that way.

I remember the mattress shopping experience. It was horrible. A lot of decisions. Fabric, coils, size. Very complicated. And there are people saying you spend 1/3 of your life on the mattress. And how does the cost equate with comfort?

I haven’t slept on a mattress in over 6 years. I sleep on a hammock. The hand weave is a Buckminster Fuller type design. So that the weight is dispersed equally over the triangle of the weave. No tossing and turning. You wake up in the exact position you went to sleep. It is incredible!

And the best news is you can buy a top of the line hammock for $100. The hammocks are hand made in the Yucatan Peninsula. Of course, they are excellent here due to the heat. However, when I visit my daughter in WA state, I sleep in a sleeping bag on top of the hammock. And it works fine. You need something to conserve the body heat.

It took me three nights to adapt to the hammock. When I travel to the states, my family/friends all have hammocks. As I brought them.

One hundred dollars is a small investment. For the best sleep ever! I have had my current one for six years. So, they last a long time. If you are interested in a great night of sleep, don’t overlook the hammock!

Recently I had to purchase a new mattress. After reading this board I went to IKEA, and looked at the Casper.

I almost bought the Casper, but went with a firmer version from Tuft & Needle.

I’m extremely satisfied, and would recommend it.