Mattresses come in several types:
- inner spring
There aren't many "plain inner spring" mattresses around, and they aren't as good as they used to be.
- memory foam
Folks either love or hate the stuff. I fall into the latter category.
Most of today's mattresses seem to fall into this category, even those that are billed as "inner spring." The ones with a little bit of padding are mostly padded with memory foam. I find I can deal with a small amount of memory foam, as long as I don't sink into the mattress.
We're not talking about those inflatable "guest room" mattresses; it's the euphemism for "Sleep Number" beds. I was favorably impressed with the Sleep Number bed, but it costs around three times as much as a hybrid.
These tend to mostly be futon mattresses. Like memory foam, folks either love or hate 'em.
- water Not so popular any more, waterbeds are heavy, and every time you or someone else moves, the entire bed rocks. If you're prone to motion sickness (as I am), a waterbed is A Bad Idea.
- futon Folks either love or hate futons. I find them uncomfortable, and I don't need to constantly fold and unfold my bed.
- Today's mattresses are designed not to be flipped.
My current mattress is more than 25 years old. It lasted as long as it did because I regularly flipped and rotated it. The current generation of mattresses have built-in obsolescence. My research says that a mattress is likely to last more than ten years, but there's no way I'll get 20 good years out of a mattress again ever.
- Mattress prices are way higher than they were in 1987.
I expected inflation, but instead the prices have tripled since then! No longer can you get away with shelling out $450 and getting the top-of-the-line mattress.
- Comparison shopping is difficult.
I've decided on a high-end Sealy Posturepedic Plus. Some mattress companies, such as Sealy, have different names at different stores for what is essentially the same mattress. The only way you can tell whether you're comparing apples to apples, so to speak, is by coil count, padding type, and firmness level. I've found two sites helpful for some of this:
- Mattress warranties are at best good for ten years.
The manufacturer will support the thing for ten years without the warranty being prorated, but the policy on how you'd "return" the warrantied mattress varies from store to store. For example, Costco's return policy is much more liberal than Sleep Train's, but Sleep Train will pick up the stuff, whereas Costco expects you to bring it in.
- Double-check everything each salesperson tells you.
Some salespeople are honest; some are sleazy. If the salesperson tries to goad you away from the mattress you want onto one that doesn't work for you, write them off. If a salesperson blatantly lies to your face, such as telling you their "store brand" mattress is "equivalent" to the mattress you want (which they don't carry or don't have on the floor), write them off. If a salesperson won't let you test out a mattress or boxspring in the showroom, don't buy from them.
- If you find The Right Mattress, consider layaway if you can't afford to buy it right away.
Mattress models change every year. The one you liked today might not be available in a few months, so if you find The Right Mattress, it's a worthwhile investment.
- You're going to be sleeping on this thing for the next decade or so.
The money you spend on a better mattress will return in the forms of better health, better alertness, less back pain, and fewer visits to doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists.
At this point I've come down to two mattresses in what may or may not be two different stores. The guy at the newer Sleep Train in Milpitas told me that his store had been "Mattress Discounters," but that the chain had been bought by Sleep Train. The Mountain View Mattress Discounters store still bears the name "Mattress Discounters," so I want to visit both the Mountain View "Mattress Discounters" and "Sleep Train" stores to see whether this was true just for Milpitas or whether the whole "Mattress Discounters" chain is disappearing. (If the latter, and if the "Mattress Discounters" store has a "going out of business" sale, I might want to take advantage of it.)
As you can see, it's confusing, and I want to make The Right Decision.