We all need sleep. And we think that a great mattress will give us great sleep. WRONG! Mattress shopping is among the toughest consumer purchases because of the Goldilocks Syndrome. You know, the bed can’t be too soft or too hard….it has to be just right. Since we are busting myths, we probably should mention that Goldilocks never existed and that, even if she did, she was a diva. There’s tons of Net-info on mattress buying and, by and large, it is accurate but complicated and time-consuming. As a public service, we have actually come up with a formula for getting the best deal on a mattress and it doesn’t take a lot of work. (Disclaimer: this isn’t for people who have special needs or require specialized bedding arrangements) Here goes:
- Buy a basic firm mattress. You can generally get them for about $400 — and sometimes less.
- Buy a foam or gel topper. You can generally get them for about $100. Costco sells them for about that much, but there are other deals out there.
- Buy a good mattress pad. Cost = $50, give or take.
Result: For about $600 (after tax and delivery) you can get yourself a kick-ass bed that competes with
While we are busting myths, let’s blow-up a few more.
The More You Spend, the Better The Mattress: Bullpucky! A hefty price tag does not guarantee a mattress will be the one for you. As our formula shows, you can create a great bed for $600 or less. When shopping, keep your budget in mind, and explore your options to find the bed that best meets your needs. As Consumer Reports recently proved, the expensive mattresses don’t translate to better sleep.
You Have To Replace Your Mattress Every Decade: The truth is that the life of a mattress varies wildly, which depends on how you take care of it, how you sleep on it and how it well built it was. You’ll know when it’s time to get a new mattress based on how you feel when you wake up — listen to your body, not the marketing strategy of mattress merchants.
Pillow-top mattresses Are Essential: The truth is you are being charged a premium of $200 or more an added cushioning that you can buy for $50 or less. Buy your own cushioning pad — you can replace it whenever your wish and save a lot of money in the process.
Lifetime Warranties Ensure a Better Bed: The mattress warranties are largely useless. As we’ve demonstrated in our lawsuit against Simmons, the small print in these warranties often negate the value of the warranty. Also note that transportation costs (to and from the factory) are usually not covered in the case of repair or replacement. Another merchant gotcha: a new warranty is normally not issued when the mattress is replaced.
A Box-Spring is a Requirement to Support the Mattress Properly: In reality, you only need a box spring or foundation if your bed frame uses slats for support. With the advent of larger mattresses, box springs are pretty much useless. All you need is a solid platform, like a large piece of plywood, underneath your mattress for support.
You Need a Firm Bed if you Have Back Pain: Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm creates aches and pains on pressure points rather than addressing your unique spine curvature. Far more important is to choose a mattress that supports your head, shoulders, hips and feet all in proper alignment or to use supplemental pillows to help with that support.
Mattress Buying Is Risk Free Because of Return Policies: Yes, most mattress merchants offer trial periods or return policies, but beware hidden restocking and pickup fees before buying. Most companies let you sleep on a mattress for 30 to 60 days before deciding to return or exchange it, but it helps to confirm that before buying. Keep in mind that many sellers will charge a 15 to 25 percent restocking fee on top of shipping, though you might at least be able to save on shipping by driving the mattress back yourself.
Comparison Shopping of Mattresses is Mandatory: Normally, we’d agree with this rule of thumb, but not when it comes to mattresses. Mattress makers offer some lines nationally, but when those brands are sold through major chains such as Macy’s, Sears, and Sleepy’s, they’re for lines exclusive to those chains. And manufacturers often don’t release accurate information about coil count, spring gauge or construction of the mattress. As a result, it is very difficult to comparison shop.
Four other myths addressed by Consumer Reports:
- Foam layers make a better bed
- The more coils the better
- Gel-infused foam mattresses have a cooling effect
- Lumbar support zones are better for bad backs.
It turns out that none of these myths hold up to scrutiny. That’s why we go back to our formula: create your own bed with a low-cost firm mattress. Try it! You’ll like it!