Don’t settle for anything less than comfort
The average person spends nearly eight hours a day sleeping. That’s about 120 days throughout the year, which translates into a third of our lifetime. Even those who can get by on six hours a night will spend a quarter of their years sleeping. So, it makes sense to put some thought (and possibly money) into where you’re going to be spending all that time.
Laying down in the store isn’t the only way to choose a mattress these days. Online mattress-in-a-box companies have won over customers with convenient shipping and free trial periods, but this route isn’t right for everyone. Veteran of mattress sales Sam Novick, who owns Portland’s Hub Furniture Company, believes there is only one way to buy a mattress. “I’ve never met anyone who’s been happy with a mattress they bought online, and I’ve only been doing this for 50 years,” he says good naturedly. Hub Furniture has been a Portland fixture since 1913 and carries four well-known mattress brands—Sealy, Tempurpedic, Therapedic, and Ashley.
The traditional experience of in-store shopping will offer greater variety, and most companies offer removal of your existing mattress. It’s also important to spend upwards of 10 minutes on each mattress you’re seriously considering. Hopping on and off won’t tell you what you need to know. (If you really want to sleep on the mattress, the month-long trials and money-back guarantees available online may be worth the hassle of setting up and possibly returning the bulky item.)
Catherine Duman, the sales manager at Portland Mattress Makers, also feels the showroom experience is the best way to buy. “We all have different body aches and pains, we all carry weight differently, and we all have different opinions on what is comfortable,” she explains. Portland Mattress Makers have been making mattresses in Maine since 1938. All of the materials are made in the United States, and the company sells directly to customers, skipping the “middleman markup,” as Catherine calls it. Therefore, customers “are getting a better quality for a lower price.”
When starting your mattress search, experts suggest considering the following:
The most common support styles are traditional innerspring, pocket coil, foam, air-filled, and hybrid models. If you and your partner sleep differently, air-filled mattresses with dual chambers are a great option to look at.
If you like a bed with bounce, traditional innerspring mattresses have that familiar springy feel, and the individual “pocketed” coils reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves. If you prefer a firmer base, memory foam has less bounce and provides more pressure relief. You can determine quality by looking at the density and thickness of the foam (i.e. how deep you’ll sink). For a plush top, look for an innerspring mattress with a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. Remember that the pillowtop can compress over time, so a better option may be to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress and cover it with a separate mattress topper.
Whatever you choose, make sure you buy what feels right. “Sometimes when customers have been sleeping on a mattress that has lost its support, they overcompensate and think they need a really firm mattress,” Catherine says. “What they need is a good, strong support and whatever firmness feels right and comfortable to them.” Sam also guides customers through the different mattress tops on display in the Hub showroom, including firm, cushion firm, plush, and pillow top. “Once you decide on the feel, there are features and benefits assigned to all the models on a showroom floor.”
Catherine says her showroom offers a wide range of prices, and she can typically find a mattress that fits within any budget. She suggests letting your salesperson know your budget as soon as you arrive, so you’re shown appropriate options. According to Good Housekeeping, you should never pay full price in a store. Shop the sales, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the salesperson. Online, the price is usually final, but it doesn’t include markups for being sold at a physical store. Either way, always ask about the return policy. Some stores will offer a partial refund, while online companies often arrange to pick the unwanted mattress up for a local charity and refund your money fully.
Every company offers a different warranty, and some are prorated, meaning they lose value with time. Many mattresses are covered for ten years, but a longer warranty may not promise a certain lifespan. Make sure you read the fine print. If the mattress is marred because you didn’t use a mattress protector, or if you don’t use a matching foundation (like a box spring), it could invalidate the warranty.
Adjustable mattresses come with a base that can be raised or lowered. Raising the head of the bed takes pressure off the neck and shoulders, while raising under the knees takes pressure off the lower back and hips. This feature can help with issues like acid reflux, sleep apnea, edema, snoring and breathing difficulties, circulation, and more. These types of frames can also make it easier for people with mobility issues to safely and comfortably get in and out of bed.
How long does a mattress last?
This is the number one question Catherine gets at the Portland Mattress Makers showroom. The company’s high-end mattresses are warrantied for 10 years, but “They can certainly last much longer if you take care of them.” Catherine and her team suggest rotating a single-sided mattress four times a year, while a double-sided mattress should be flipped twice a year and rotated twice a year. Strong support will also help extend the life of a mattress. “A flat, solid surface is best,” Catherine says. “If you have a frame, make sure there is a leg in the center from the bed to the floor to avoid any premature wear.” You can also help your new mattress out by using a mattress protector, which can help keep out dust, allergens, and spills. Sam encourages customers to ask plenty of questions to “fully understand the quality and longevity of the various mattresses.”
In the COVID era, it may seem like shopping in-store is an unnecessary risk. At Portland Mattress Makers, Catherine says staff is cleaning multiple times throughout the day and enforcing the state-wide mask mandate. They have disposable sheets to cover mattress and pillows when they’re being tested, and staff is practicing social distancing. Hub Furniture has similar protocols in place, and they also offer appointments for anyone who would like to shop before or after regular store hours to limit exposure to other customers.
Whether you’re going the traditional or online route, the key to mattress success is the test phase. Don’t settle for anything less than comfort!