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Help with finding the right mattress

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 1:50 AM

Help with finding the right mattress - Dave Phillips

I'll start with a question from a friend that will represent the sentiments of a lot of people when they want to look for a mattress. Then I will give my response:

Hey, Dave! I have a question for you, since you sell mattresses. I've been having problems with my back aching in the night from the mattress I have, and I'm thinking it's time to buy a new one. The problem is that, every time I buy a mattress, it ends up not working for my back. (I have mild back problems - nothing severe, but noticeable with the wrong mattress.) I think I need to go with something firmer - I think that may be part of the problem. Also, every mattress I buy ends up developing dips in it from where I sleep. My last one was a pillow-top, so it couldn't be flipped - only turned. The one I have now is one I can flip, but it's still not helping - I still have dips. So, my question is what your recommendation would be for a mattress that will be a good quality for someone with mild back problems, but will also be affordable. Any suggestions? I hope you're having a wonderful day, my friend!

Hi ___, I have been in the mattress business for over 8 years (now almost 12 years) and I can say with confidence that there is no "cure all" mattress. I am not a doctor but a lot of people have thanked me for helping them find the right mattress for their needs. I have studied mattresses and sleep and have interacted with hundreds of customers. So here are some observations that hopefully will help you.

First lets clear up a common misunderstanding. Many times I hear, "I need a really firm bed" OR my doctor said I should get a harder bed. You need to ask for clarification. The floor is hard but it will not meet most peoples support needs. Usually when someone in the medical field says, get a harder bed they mean get rid of your 20 year old, sagging mattress and buy one that doesn't sag...buy one that gives good support.

What is good support in a mattress?

You can break support into 2 categories.

1. The first is the core support: springs/coils, or in a latex/foam mattress it would be the core foam. The core should offer good, strong support while not creating pressure points at the shoulders and hips. If your core is not strong enough you will sink too far into the middle...we call this "hammocking." A hammock is great for an afternoon in Hawaii, but not recommended for regular sleep.

2. The other form of support is the padding above the springs/core. There are three basic categories (and each of these will have sub-categories):

FIRM: Thin or high density padding which is made even firmer by a tighter stitching pattern on the top.

PLUSH: Additional layers of padding to create some softness.

PILLOWTOP: More layers of padding with a top that looks like a separate piece that has been added to the top (looks like a pillow sewn on top of the mattress). Usually pillowtops allow more give.

How do you know if you are getting enough support?

When lying down on your side or back you should feel that your spine is straight and feel overall...comfortable. You don't need to sacrifice comfort for good support. If you are used to a hard mattress or floor you may need to stick to what you are used to, but softness is not bad. Softness helps to eliminate pressure points and also fills in the curve of your side or back and giving support where a "too firm" mattress would not reach. Sorry there is no magic bed that will meet everyone's need. You should try several out.

In regards to flippable mattresses...basically they quit making them about 10 years ago and though we salespeople were skeptical at first, there was actually good reason. With two soft sides you have twice as much material to compress allowing the mattress to get a deeper body impression. So only one sleeping side actually, generally, gives better back support. You should at least seriously consider a good quality foam mattress (without a coil). Some people like latex and others prefer the memory foam (and memory foam now comes with cool gel so that it doesn't sleep too hot).

About box springs...manufacturers always want you to buy their new box springs. There are two reasons for this. One is they want to make more money off of you. The other other is because a box CAN go out and if your mattress doesn't have good support, YOU won't have proper support AND this can cause your mattress to go out (break down). You CAN use a platform bed, in which case you don't need a box spring. Or if your box is relatively young and in good shape you don't need to get a new one. If your box IS old you probably should get a new one if you're not using a platform bed.

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