How to look for and find the best mattress ... for You! *** READ FIRST ***

 

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Status Quo ~ Mattress Buying an Introduction

Buying a new mattress is one of the most important purchases you can make only a few other things will have as big an effect on your overall well-being over the next decade or so. Unfortunately ... for most people, a mattress is a completely blind purchase and the vast majority of consumers know little to nothing about what really makes a good quality mattress or what to believe about the many claims and confusing, conflicting, and even misleading information they are exposed to. Most "typical" salespeople also know very little about the quality of the materials in the mattresses they sell and are trained to sell mattresses using marketing techniques and "stories" they have been taught instead of specific and accurate information that gives consumers a way to make more meaningful comparisons and choices.

 If you start to ask for meaningful, factual information from most retailers about the quality of the layers in their mattresses (such as foam densities) ... especially for major brands (the ones that you will see advertised) ... you will usually see eyes start to roll or glaze over as they realize that you probably know more about mattresses than they do. There are very few major purchases that are as blind as a mattress or where the salespeople know so little about what really makes a good quality product. An hour or two spent on this site though reading some of the basics can give you more meaningful information than most of the salespeople in the mainstream industry that sells mattresses.

The crux of Mattress Shopping

A mattress is only as durable as its weakest link and knowing that every layer of your mattress uses good quality materials that are appropriate for your budget and weight/BMI range is one of the most important parts of buying a good quality/value mattress. You can't "feel" quality or durability because even the lowest quality materials can be very comfortable in the highly managed environment of most mattress showrooms. The quality or durability of a mattress can only be predicted if you know the details about what is in the mattress and have a way to know what these details mean or someone to "translate" them for you. Many foam materials such as memory foam or polyfoam have higher quality/ foam density and more durable versions and lower quality/density and much less durable versions even if the actual type of material and how it feels is the same (see the mattress durability guidelines article)

The good news though is that there are some steps you can take to greatly shift the odds in your favor of finding a high-quality mattress that fits your needs and preferences (what I call PPP or Posture and alignment, pressure relief, and Personal preferences) and has much better value than what you will find if you only "follow the advertising" or shop for major brands at mass-market retailers or chain stores. The "secret" is knowing where to look and what to look for.We are each unique in our needs and preferences. As one of our members recently wrote in the forum thread "mattress choice ~ an editorial " ... there really are no shortcuts ... only ways that you can eliminate the frustration, confusion, and "information overwhelm" of mattress shopping and perhaps ... with the right help ... turn it into a pleasure.

So for those who want the best possible quality and value and want to find and work with "mattress experts" that have the experience, knowledge, service, and integrity to give you good information and help you find your "perfect" mattress ... the steps in the Complete Tutorial are for you. The time you spend reading them, the confidence they will give you, and the time and money they will end up saving you …. will help you more than anything else you could do when you are first starting out with your mattress research.

There are many "needs" and many "preferences" in a mattress purchase and the Mattress Forum post #4 outlines the ideal "end result" of a mattress purchase that is "perfect" for you.

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gianos's Avatar
gianos replied the topic: #2 29 Sep 2012 16:14
Phoenix,

I am new to this forum but have been reading a bit and you seem to be a good place to start. We have been sleeping on a McCroskey box spring and mattress combination for almost 15 years and have been very happy up until the last few. Now in our early sixties we are looking for something "softer" I think; we have been sleeping on their firmest bed combination. Both of us sleep primarily on our side (wife sometimes on her stomach) and have lower back issues. Our current problem is to maintain good support but get something with less of a pressure point problem. I also get sciatica when I sleep on my left side and that is new.

In our search we came across Berkeley Ergonomics at European Sleepworks and in principle like the system they have. So i have a series of questions. Any facts or opinions would be welcome.

One choice is to buy a latex topper from BE just to see if that will do the trick. That would also be the cheapest solution.

Another option, again sticking with the McCroskey line, is to buy a new softer mattress in their line (keep our current box spring) and use the topper (because they don't have mattresses with comfort toppers) to provide the pressure point relief. This is appealing because I think they have a quality product and good service but there is not much customization available here, either side to side or just different levels of softness, etc.

Finally, we could move to the whole BE system and start all over.

Price is not a big factor because the BE and the McCroskey would be similar in cost (unless the topper works by itself - I am thinking unlikely). I am of the opinion that it is difficult to tell for sure until you sleep on it for several weeks at least, so I sort of favor the BE stuff because the store will customize more and in the event it just does not work we can return altogether - not cheap but not a complete loss. McCroskey will not take the mattress back.

So here are some questions:

We live in Menlo Park - I can't seem to find any place that lists where I can buy BE (including their website) and European SW is a long way away. Any ideas on the best place to buy BE? or the best sales expert to help us?

Does it make sense to try the topper first? or is the mattress old or our situation changed so much that it is unlikely to work.

Is is really practical to figure out in advance which system is best for us or do we need to assume we will have to try several or find something that is adjustable (like the BE system).

thanks much for anything you can offer.

flip
Phoenix's Avatar
Phoenix replied the topic: #3 29 Sep 2012 21:57
Hi gianos,

McRoskey makes some very high quality mattresses and have a loyal following but they are nowhere near the same price or value range as BE or other choices you may have in the area. Their mattresses require a box spring as part of the sleeping system (with the possible exception of the McRoskey by design which can be used on a platform bed) and in anything close to an apples to apples comparison they are significantly more than BE and many other options similar options. In queen size ... the basic set which uses synthetic fibers is $3400, the Classic is $4460 and the McRoskey by design (which may be the closest comparison to a BE) is $4000 mattress only. As you mentioned ... they also don't have the same ability to customize or alter after a purchase.

One choice is to buy a latex topper from BE just to see if that will do the trick. That would also be the cheapest solution.


Natural fibers including wool tend to compress and become firmer over time so if the only problem is that your current mattress is too firm and needs some extra pressure relief and the surface is even and supportive then a topper could be a good choice yes. If it has impressions that are affecting alignment then a topper will still follow the dips.

Another option, again sticking with the McCroskey line, is to buy a new softer mattress in their line (keep our current box spring) and use the topper (because they don't have mattresses with comfort toppers) to provide the pressure point relief. This is appealing because I think they have a quality product and good service but there is not much customization available here, either side to side or just different levels of softness, etc.


This is a possibility but it would be the least attractive one to me in terms of flexibility and value. You would need a mattress, possibly a new box spring (depending on the condition of your current box spring and if it has any soft spots or dips), and a topper as well ... and all of this together would easily be much more than a BE or other options you have.

Finally, we could move to the whole BE system and start all over.


This would certainly be better value and have more flexibility than the previous option IMO.

Price is not a big factor because the BE and the McCroskey would be similar in cost (unless the topper works by itself - I am thinking unlikely). I am of the opinion that it is difficult to tell for sure until you sleep on it for several weeks at least, so I sort of favor the BE stuff because the store will customize more and in the event it just does not work we can return altogether - not cheap but not a complete loss. McCroskey will not take the mattress back.


Again ... unless I am somehow misreading the McRoskey website ... the difference in price in anything close to an apples to apples comparison (based on the components you would need) is significant.

We live in Menlo Park - I can't seem to find any place that lists where I can buy BE (including their website) and European SW is a long way away. Any ideas on the best place to buy BE? or the best sales expert to help us?


BE is only available in a very limited number of stores across the country. The closest to you that I'm aware of is www.sc41.com/ in Soquel about 35 miles away.

Does it make sense to try the topper first? or is the mattress old or our situation changed so much that it is unlikely to work.


It would make sense if your current mattress was still firm and relatively even and the only issue was pressure relief (not alignment and lower back issues that are not "in you" can be caused or aggrabated by a mattress that doesnpt provide good alignment in all your sleeping positions). At 15 years old though ... it may be worthwhile to consider a new mattress anyway that not only provides better pressure relief but may work better for your changing needs and provide better alignment in all your sleeping positions.

Assuming the mattress is suitable for a topper though ... it could put off the decision for a few more years and give you the pressure relief you need even though if there are any alignment issues caused or aggravated by the mattress it isn't likely to solve these.

Is is really practical to figure out in advance which system is best for us or do we need to assume we will have to try several or find something that is adjustable (like the BE system).


No. Personal testing ... especially with the help of someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you know what would work best for your needs and preferences ... will always be more accurate than a theory (such as those we are discussing). there are too many variables in both people and sleeping systems for theory to be anything more than just a starting point for testing.

You also have some other good options in the area besides just McRoskey and BE and they are listed in the San Jose thread in post #2 here (with a few others but mostly overlap in the San Francisco thread in post #2 here .

If I was in your shoes ... I would either go with a latex topper that was soft enough to provide the pressure relief you need (assuming no alignment issues and that your mattress is suitable and would evenly support a topper and you were looking to delay the mattress replacement for a while) or start over again with either BE or one of the higher quality and value options available within reasonable driving distance. A trip to Santa Cruz to test both the BE and Bay Bed would be well worthwhile IMO and there are other options that are quite close to you that I would also include in your research.

Phoenix
BrentInKC's Avatar
BrentInKC replied the topic: #4 30 Sep 2012 02:19
What options would I have for local manufacturers in the KC,MO area? We are currently trying beds from Mattress Firm, mainly b/c of their exchange policy (now on our 2nd mattress, soon to exchange for 3rd). So far this has been frustrating and I just happened to stumble on this website while trying to get product reviews for the next bed we are interested in.

So far, both myself (165 lbs) and my wife (115 lbs) are back/side sleepers who have been experiencing lateral lumbar and side muscle pain on waking for the past few years and have finally attributed it to our 5 yr old innerspring mattress with euro pillowtop from Sealy. We have assumed it to be too soft, so we started with more firm mattresses. First a Tempurpedic Contour Signature, and then an iComfort Insight, but both are way too firm leaving us with increased lumbar pain and poor sleep. Next we were planning on either a Tempurpedic Rhapsody or iComfort Prodigy and would be interested on your thoughts or alternatives to these, especially since the Temp's price is substantial.

We would be fine with looking at other manufacturers that you might recommend, but we are very new to this process. Also, given our stats and problems, is there a different type of mattress you would recommend over what we are looking at?
Phoenix's Avatar
Phoenix replied the topic: #5 30 Sep 2012 03:02
Hi BrentinKC,

You are probably lucky to get 5 years for a euro pillowtop from any major brand before the lower quality foams in the pillowtop softened to a point where you lost good support and alignment. Your lighter weights probably helped it to last a little longer.

Since you're posting in this thread I'm hoping that you've read the various links in the first post about avoiding chain stores and major brands so I wouldn't recommend either the Tempurpedic (generally better quality but poor value compared to other similar memory foam mattresses) or the iComfort line (lower quality and also poor value). You can see my thoughts about the Tempurpedic line in post #10 here and the iComfort line in post #11 here .

Many smaller or local independent manufacturers sold factory direct or through better sleep shops would make high quality memory foam mattresses that were similar quality but significantly better value. Personal testing along with buying from a retailer that disclosed the type and quality of the layers in their mattress would lead to a much better choice.

Some of the better options and possibilities I'm aware of in the Kansas City area are in post #2 here .

Most of the rest of your questions (such as alternative types of mattresses, ideas about the type of layering that would be suitable for your weight and sleeping positions, and what to look for and what to avoid) would be answered in the links included in the first post of this thread which is probably the best place to start before you begin to look for or start testing mattresses.

Phoenix
BrentInKC's Avatar
BrentInKC replied the topic: #6 30 Sep 2012 17:25
Do you have a link to the Pure Latex Bliss bed specifications. I can't tell from their website. That looks like a possible good option for us.

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