After working in a mattress store for several years, more often than not I will hear the following question: “What's your best mattress?” Inevitably I will smile, shake my head, and respond, “The one that hit's your back and your wallet right at the same time.” Today, I am going to talk about the elephant in the room. Everyone wants a mattress that is going to be comfortable, last a long time, and not cost you your first born child. My goal is to try and hit all three of these criteria.
First and foremost, the mattress has to be comfortable. By that, I mean that it has to support your individual sleep needs and help you get a good night's sleep. Many people have heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for...” and believe that the most expensive mattress will lead them to the most comfortable sleep. So, does that mean that you should walk into your local mattress store and just buy the most expensive mattress they have? The answer to that is, maybe. It may be that mattress has the right combination of springs, foam, memory foam, latex foam, micro coils, fabric, and/or adjustable base that fits your needs. But, it may not. Every one is different. The same mattress that works for a healthy 20 year old who sleeps on their side is not necessarily going to work for a 40 year old who has sleep apnea and sleeps on their back. When looking for a mattress, you should look for staff that focus on how you sleep and what your individual needs are. If they can explain to you how this mattress can benefit you specifically, then that is much better than someone who just takes you to a $2000 mattress and cannot explain what is inside it. For example, I do not sleep on the most expensive mattress that my store carries, because it is too soft for my wife and I and does not support our backs. We sleep on something that has better back support for us. The key is not to fall into the trap of buying a Ferrari and then getting upset that you cannot tow a trailer behind it. There is nothing wrong with a Ferrari, but if you are going to tow a lot, you should probably buy a truck.
Secondly, the mattress needs to be durable. The mattress needs to last a long time. Nowadays, there are many numbers thrown out as to how long a mattress should last. Some will tell you 5, 8, 10, even 20 years are touted for mattress longevity (although 20 years comes with a lot of stipulations as we will explore later on). Research has been done to give a good number. Well built Non-Flippable mattresses, using good quality materials, and are rotated 4 times a year, should last somewhere between 10-12 years. This is 10-12 years of quality sleep. Flippable mattresses, still using good quality materials and are rotated and flipped 4 times a year, should last 12-15 years. So, now that we know about how long mattresses should last, how do we know that the new mattress we get will last that long? The key is mattresses using “good quality materials.” What does that entail? That means that you need to know how dense your foam is and how thick your coils are and with how many turns. The higher density of foam means that it weighs more. The higher the number, the more it weighs, meaning there is less air. The more air in the foam, the more likely it is going to break down and sag. Coils are the reverse. The lower the gauge of steel, the thicker the wire is. This leads to a firmer feel. You also should look at the turns in the wire. The more turns there are, the harder it will feel also. One quick note, just because the mattress feels firm, it does NOT mean that it is a higher density foam and steel. You can take a thin wire and turn it a lot to feel firm. You can also get a low density foam that feels as hard as a rock. But, after a few months, the air is gone and the steel is bent. The only way to be sure, is to know the numbers and compare.
Lastly, you want a mattress that does not require you taking on a new mortgage payment. When looking at mattresses, you can find a huge range of prices from $599 for a Queen all the way to $5999. Not only do these mattresses have different price points, they also have different types of materials. The important thing to ask is, what is the quality difference? If you find a mattress worth $1500, you should know what the difference is between that one and the cheap one in the corner. However, this is where you have to be careful. That lower priced Queen might feel the same as the one that costs $1000 more. But, remember that the density of the foam tells you the longevity of a mattress. You don't want to by the mattress that costs $1000 less just to have it break down every 3 years and have to buy a new one. That extra $1000 might have a higher initial cost, but if it lasts 10 years, which one is really more cost effective?
So, what is the best mattress that we have? The one that hits your back and wallet right at the same time. The goal should be to find a mattress that fits your comfort needs, will stand up over time, and also hits your budget. The most expensive mattress may have more than you need or may not give you a good night's sleep. Just as the leas expensive mattress may feel great for a few months and then get you right back to where you started. When all three criteria are met, that is where the best mattress lies. Happy Sleeping!