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Diatribe: Shopping For A Mattress.


MattressShoppingI hate to shop for cars and shoes.  This weekend I remembered that I also hate to shop for mattresses.  I think, at the heart of the matter, is the fact that I don’t like too many choices.  If everything I ever needed came in “cheap”, “moderately priced” and “expensive” I would choose the one in the middle every time.  I don’t want to be extravagant but I believe there’s a lot of truth in the old adage “you get what you pay for” so I would stick to the middle ground.

Like cars and shoes, there are a seemingly unlimited variety of mattresses available.  I haven’t bought a new mattress set in ages and there have been many changes in “mattress technology” since my last purchase.  My research began online where I learned far too many specifics about sleeping habits and the mechanics of a bed.  Along the way I learned that there are an extraordinary amount of mattress retailers!  I suppose a mattress really is something that everyone needs to own.  I also learned that there are some intentionally confusing aspects to the art of mattress sales …

The names don’t mean a thing.  Mattress retailers try to keep customers from comparison shopping.  Mattresses of a particular manufacturer are made at the same factory but are giving different names for different retailers.  Many dealers carry the exact same mattress but they call it something else or cover it in a different color.  Plush, firm, firmly plush, plushly firm, medium plush, pillow top, bleh.

Components are confusing.  The parts of a mattress are really quite simple but retailers appear to utilize their own laws of science, physics and mathematics to name and describe the various parts of the particular mattress that they are trying to sell.  Terms like “cell density”, “gel infusion”, etc. only add to the confusion.

Comfort is relative.  After you lay on two or three mattresses they all start to feel the same.  You can take quizzes about your sleeping habits and apply equations related to your height and weight but at the end of the day, they’re hard to tell apart.

Springs are not comfortable.  For generations, mattresses have been constructed of steel springs which are not inherently comfortable.  Steel is a very rigid substance and even when coiled it’s not something you necessarily want to lie on all night long.  Some would have you believe that more coils equals more comfort.  To me it just seems like more steel to sleep on.

After hours of online research, visits to several retail stores and conversations with many different mattress sales professionals, we finally made a selection.  Ultimately, we based our decision on reputation, price and exasperation.

My advice … set a price range limit (you can spend from $399 to $7,000 for a queen-sized mattress) and don’t so much as rest your head on a sample whose price is not within your range.  The trick seems to be to limit your choices as much as possible before you involve the concept of “comfort” in your decision.

Any other advice?


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From → Diatribes

  1. Can’t you at least tell us what you bought?


  2. A while back foam mattresses were all the rage, but just recently it has been discovered how hot they are to sleep on. Personally, I didn’t want foam because I could not see where it would offer enough support for me with my bad back. The last time we bought a mattress pillow top was all the rage, but we found, in our price range, the pillow top would shift & not do what it was supposed to do. So in the end, we returned everything & got a plain mattress instead. Hope you like your new mattress!


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