The third circle of mattress shopping Hell..

The New Year New Me Challenge kicked off with a new mattress! Deeper sleep and no back pain is what I was aiming to resolve as manfriend and I were daydreaming about the perfect bed. No one had warned me about the hours of life I would commit to the spiraling decent into coil lined plush hell.

A new bed had been far overdue as manfriend and I have never seen eye to eye about the firmness of the bed; I sleep on my stomach and he sleeps on his side, he prefers soft, I prefer firm. We both suffer back pain attempting to appease the other and enough is now enough. We decided to commit to a new bed that makes us both happy – if such a magical unicorn of a mattress even exists. For the past year we had slept on my old bed, the year prior his; he brought a plush top Simmons to the relationship, I brought a firm and unforgiving polyfoam. Trading years of misery seems like an uber shitty way to live our life together and who needs to live like that?

Debate one. Mattress store or furniture store? We knew we had to buy in person if we pexels-photo-210557.jpegwanted a chance to try everything out for ourselves before purchasing, you can’t snuggle into something your browsing on Amazon. Mattress stores are going to carry the top brands and a few quality tiers to offer, department stores will carry their private label name brands which are produced by the same top brand producers. Macy’s will carry a Beautyrest but it will be called a different name, a private label name. With PL there can be differences in material, construction, quality, and/or warranty. A furniture store will carry a select number of top brands to choose from, they may be the best chance at price haggling or white sale deal, financing is also usually available. The selection at each retailer will be about the same, between 15-30 beds to choose from of a variety of firmness and construction materials.

pexels-photo-545015.jpegDebate two. What type of mattress can we agree on? I must have a firm bed or my hips get all wonky when I sleep, MF has a Cpap and sleeps on his side, he wants a soft bed so his shoulders don’t hurt. We had discussed the idea of two XL twins in our king size frame but the crack and bedding the idea that we would inevitably lose a dog down the abyss it all seemed like shenanigans.  A good friend of ours had suggested we check out a sleepnumber bed they had one and enjoyed it.

We made a visit to the sleepnumber store in our local mall. It was an interesting experience for sure. Walking through the doors you are greeted with monitors everywhere;the atmosphere was arcade like with screens haphazardly maximizing as much retail floor space as they could in efforts to lure you to slumber with colorful topography of your ass.

They boast a whopping 7 beds for us to try that will fit our budget and softness requirements. We are given a little cloth to take from bed to bed and apply to the pillow prior to laying down – keeping us all hygienic and what not – very classy. We begin our tour with the most basic of the sleepnumber and work our way around to the best they have.

They offered great suggestions and it was a neat experience to have, however, they didn’t really tell us much more than I need a hard bed, he needs a soft bed. Our butt topography had confirmed this as true, it was of little surprise, all info we already knew.

The store quickly filled and lines had formed to try the various models, couples with little white cloths in hand stood barefoot on the floor in disheveled lines quietly discussing the last bed they had rolled upon. The increased foot traffic made the space unbearably loud and distracting to the point that no further decisions could be made with logic, only frustration ruled in the land of mechanical beds and sweaty footed strangers. We kept trying each one and retrying for scientific purpose, no matter what we laid on I was never happy.

I could feel the frustration building with MF as I poopooed at each bed and requested we pexels-photo-278312.jpegtry ‘maybe that one just one more time, afterall maybe this time it will be better!’. Hours we had spent on these air-filled space beds and further and further we had plummeted into grumpy mattress hell. After what seemed like days aimlessly wandering the store MF call the game, they had nothing we could agree on so we agreed to scoot.

Admittedly, they had a bed that cooled you with a fan under the top layer and it was pretty boss – I was quite lusty for that feature. Nothing they had on the floor or in their catalogue would be in my firmness requirements nor even compare to the stability the polyfoam gave.

With a grumpy honey and a frustrated MF we made the trip to a furniture store that we had purchased our things from when we move in together. They had a limited selection but one on one sales help and it was a ghost town while we were there. Eagerly I jumped from bed to bed and brand to brand seeing what our options where.

The furniture store offered memory foam and innerspring with foam combos for the selection, Temperpedic, Serta, Simmons,and Beautyrest with or with out your choice of vibrating multi-position adjustable bed. Oh yes, we tried it, we yogaed ourselves into silly shapes and had the strange love of the aggressively vibrating bed, to each their own.

While the freedom of an open showroom and the illusion of privacy offered us the chance to be candid it sure didn’t help us escape the hell of decisions. We test napped each bed at least three times and had a difference of opinion frequently; during it all MF was a doll, he prefered we find something I like and then he would try to see if he would be happy.

The pressure was on to find something I liked while I kept him in mind, he was so miserable on my bed I would be a huge jerk if I picked out the same thing again. Pillow top had never been something I liked, I always found them to be too soft and painful for me to sleep on. Lucky we had a skilled salesman who happily showed me a combo I never knew existed, one I had walked past overlooking without a second glance due to the mile high marshmallow pile of fabric.

Thank the Lord someone heard our prayers and had brought to market a glittery unicorn of slumber.  Pillow top and polyfoam had a baby and named it Natasha. Thank you Beautyrest.

I didn’t even know there were so many layers on the inside of a mattress, it’s filled with cavities of plush organs all fulfilling vital roles in keeping my back from wincing in pain and MF rotator rolling smoothly.  Pairing traditional coils with memory foam allows reduced transfer of motion and a pillow top mattress that is both soft and supportive.

Mattresses are broken down into 3 major categories and then by ranking or class from there.

Memory Foam:

It is next to impossible to find a bed that doesn’t contain some layer of memory foam in the inner most regions of the mattress. Foam is inexpensive and provides support to various places on the mattress. High end beds wrap a 2-3 inch thick layer of foam around the edges of the bed to provide edge strength, so when you sit down to tie your shoes you don’t slide right off. Two different types of foam are used in the manufacturing of all foam or foam inclusive beds, memory foam and latex foams.

Memory foam is a slow to respond foam providing support without pressure points to an individual body type. Inexpensive memory foam can retain heat and cause uncomfortable sleeping conditions, make sure to look for mattresses that have a cooling layer on top to help regulate heat during the night. Brands such as Temperpedic and Amerisleep are made entirely out of memory foam and have a number of competitors buying to have you sleep with them.

Latex foam is the second most common type of foam used, also known as polyfoam. pexels-photo-775219.jpegPolys are often more durable than memory foam, however they do not offer the same pressure point relieving body hug as the memory foam. The reduction in give to the mattress may allow it to have a longer life than its pricey alternative. I have experienced issues twice prior with memory foam mattresses if you happen to be a bit heavier or tend to roll in your sleep the memory cells deprecate quicker and cause sagging faster than poly foams. When choosing a memory foam quality and warranty matter for just these reasons, a poorly constructed foam bed will sag after a few years of use where a quality mattress should have 5-10 years of life in it.

Inner spring mattresses are those with springs as the main support system. The springs maybe in or out of cases, in a number of different configurations, and can have varying pexels-photo-327070.jpegindividual coil counts. Traditional mattresses are lined on the top and bottom with plush fabric and encased with a wood frame wrapped in foam. The life of a high quality coiled inner spring should be close to 20 years, each of the individually owned mattress brands offer warranties over 10 years for their top innersprings. Beautyrest, Stens and Foster, and Sealy offer some of the nations highest rated innerspring beds. The higher the  concentration of coils the more support provided during sleep, while individually pocketed coils allow for less transfer of motion.

Newer to the market (in my opinion taking place of the 80s water-bed fad) air cushioned beds like Sleepnumber give control to the sleeper to alternate the air pressure allowing for a firmer or softer bed feel. These beds are lined with pillow top or memory foam and only differ in that the support system is literally air rather than memory foam or coils. These types of beds have their advantages and disadvantages the same as convention mattresses, the most impressive upside is the ability to have one bed sleep two zones at different pressures. Manfriend and I went and test drove their showroom, while they are all very nice beds, the firmest a Sleepnumber could provide was still no match to the firmness of my beloved Polyfoam.

Each of the three categories is represented by a brand leader, like Simmons, and then a million tiny off brands behind them. I was once told a proverb about crummy things and it rang very true – ‘Never purchase cheap furniture, you will end up living with it for a lifetime’. Absolutely true! I can name a number of things I still have that I purchased in a pinch because I needed an end table or a dresser. Those ugly cheaply built boxed furniture produced out of fireplace kindling and tack paper will haunt you life!

Don’t go cheap, or if you do, understand that with a mattress, you totally get what you pay for. A hundred-dollar mattress may last a year where a thousand dollar mattress may last 5. This should not be the time to pick out something that will just get you by, you can end up spending quarter of your day in that bed, pick out something that will keep you comfortable for long-term.

Happy Sleeping!


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