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How Do I Choose The Right Mattress?

Nov 27, 2012

Choosing the right mattress can be one of the most daunting tasks you will face as a consumer. This is true because of several factors. First, you are not a mattress expert. Most people don't buy their very own mattress until they are in their mid-20's, having slept on what they got as a kid until leaving for college, then sleeping on whatever is in the dorm or room they rent. The vast majority of people are completely inexperienced when they go out into the mattress marketplace and wouldn't know the difference between memory foam, high density foam, latex foam, or synthetic foam. 

Another factor is most mattress stores and companies know you are inexperienced, and they craft a marketing scheme to take advantage of your inexperience by creating an atmosphere of marketing terms that mean absolutely nothing to the casual buyer, changing names and fabrics from store to store and employing used car sales tactics to pressure you into buying before you are comfortably ready to make your purchase.

You could spend weeks doing research online, going to store, talking to salespeople in mattress stores throughout your area and still not be sure which bed will solve your problem. And then there is the selection! A ton of brands. Why, just in the San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose Bay Area, there are many stores advertising even more brands. Stores bragging about their huge selection, this store saying their beds are the best, another saying that stores beds are not good, only theirs are the best. Latex vs. Memory Foam, etc. It is overwhelming and confusing.

I have always tried to help educate and arm consumers I come in contact with by giving them some simple advice when choosing the right mattress. There are three factors that help you narrow down your choices:

  1. Is it comfortable. Does it solve your issues and allow you to get the rest you so desperately desire.
  2. Is it durable. Is it built to last and does the manufacturer back that up with a legit warranty.
  3. Is it affordable, or in your price range. Makes no sense to be trying out beds you either can't or don't want to afford.
There are seemingly as many mattresses out there as there are stars at night, however, if you look at construction of mattresses, you can narrow it down quickly and take some of the fear and confusion out of the process. There are two types of foam; latex and synthetic foam. Anyone telling you otherwise is not being honest. In between those two types of foams are combinations of the two materials, latex with synthetic blended in it and synthetics with some natural material blended in it. Memory foam is just a fancier version of synthetic foam, and latex foam is just rubber whipped into foam form.

And there is generally 2 ways to create a mattress with this foam: Put it on top of another layer of foam, or put it on a spring unit. So, when you go out into the marketplace, you are going to be looking at coil mattresses with either latex or memory foam on top, or foam mattresses with support foam on the bottom instead of coils. There is Sleep Number, with an air mattress base, but other than that, these are the basic types of mattresses out there.

So, back to our formula: Finding one that is comfortable requires an investment of time. Do your research first online so you don't get overwhelmed by marketing speak and sales pitches. Choose a few brands that seem to fit your price range and plan on spending a good 15 minutes in the position you normally lay to get a good feel for the mattress. Memory foam or latex foam? Organic mattress or name brand mattress? That decision will have to be yours. As you read and research online, you will find things you like, such as not wanting a toxic FR (fire barrier) or harmful off-gassing or synthetic fabrics. 

Durability is important, as you would like your bed to last a solid 10-15 years. Research warranties and claims, and check out consumer review sites to hear what people are saying. Learn from other's mistakes.

And finally, keep it in your price range. Don't waste your time checking out beds outside of your budget. Most of the time, beds are more expensive because they have a fancier fabric and name, or more foam. Avoid paying for a lot of brand advertising. Companies like Bed In A Box. com are a good example of a foam mattress that is durable, affordable and comfortable. In Northern California, you can try them out at Nest Bedding in the San Francisco, Berkeley San Jose area. In the SF Bay Area, there are lots of places to shop, but use the internet, Yelp, Sleep Like The and other sites first, then go and check the beds out.

Good luck and sleep well!

  • mattress shopping