Karin Mahoney, director of communications for the International Sleep Products Association and Better Sleep Council, gave advice on mattresses recently in an online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.
How much better are mattresses over $1,000? I've set this price limit. Am I being foolish?
With mattresses, the old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true. The rule of thumb is to buy the best you can afford. I'm not saying you should remortgage your home to buy a new mattress, but you should invest in your rest. You spend over a third of your life in bed, so take the time to buy the mattress of your dreams.
My husband and I are unable to sleep well on the same bed. We have very different preferences of firmness and softness in a mattress. We have added mattress pads on one side of the bed, but it doesn't help much. Should we save up to buy an expensive Sleep Number bed, or do you have any other suggestions?
Ah, the couple's dilemma! Another solution would be to buy two twin extra-long beds and put them together with a seamless mattress joiner or bed doubling system. That way, you can have the preferred softness and firmness on each side and still have the intimacy of sleeping in the same bed.
When should a mattress be replaced?
Based on research from Oklahoma State University, the Better Sleep Council suggests that you consider replacing your mattress every seven years or so, sooner if you're waking up with aches and pains.
My mattress is 16 years old. It is comfortable, and I have no complaints. Should I be looking for a new one?
If you're sleeping through the night, getting eight hours of quality sleep and not waking up with aches, pains or stiffness, keep the mattress and get your zzzs!
We need to buy three mattresses. I've considered going to our favorite hotel and ordering their mattresses (new) because at least I know I can sleep on them. Is that a possibility?
Yes, almost all hotels partner with mattress manufacturers, so if you slept great at a hotel and loved the bed, you're just a few clicks away from finding the right one.
I'm buying my first real bed, and I'm willing to invest in a quality product. But where to begin? Do I decide on a frame first or a mattress first? And with many trends in low-lying beds, is it at all possible to find something with at least a foot of clearance for storage underneath?
I think the mattress is most important. It's one of your most intimate pieces of furniture, and you want something that's going to offer you the right amount of comfort and support. Keep in mind the space of your bedroom; don't get a king bed if all you have space for is a twin. As for storage, there are height extenders that you can put under your foundation that will give you the space you need.
My elderly father's health issues have kept him in bed most of the time. He is partially paralyzed, and bed sores are a problem. Would a Tempur-Pedic mattress be worth the expense, or would a type of sheet help? He also uses oxygen, so do you think I should get an adjustable bed? Could a mattress change the quality of his life?
My mom is paralyzed as well, and her doctors say an adjustable mattress is the best bet. A quality mattress could very well help your father live a more comfortable, restful life. I would talk to his physician and see if they have a suggested bed, but something that can adjust levels to relieve any pressure and prevent bed sores is a good idea.
It's frustrating that mattress retailers have different names for the same products. Mattress Discounters sells a mattress under a name like Regency. Then, the same mattress will be for sale at Sleepy's but is called Devonshire. It's never clear which products are comparable, and the retailers are less than forthcoming with this information. How can we get reliable information for effective comparison shopping?
I get this question a lot. As I understand it, retailers have mattresses made specifically for their store by the manufacturer. It's their way of offering one-of-a-kind mattresses for consumers. It does lead to frustration and confusion, though! My advice is to shop from store to store based on add-ons and customer guarantees. Will they ship your bed for free? Will they offer free removal of your old mattress? Good luck!