What Do Density and ILD Ratings For Foam Mean?

What Do Density and ILD/IFD Ratings For Memory Foam Mean?

To distinguish between foam mattresses and all of the ingredients that are used in them, and to have a kind of rosetta stone “code” to be able to understand whether you are buying a really good mattress or a promotional grade bed made with the same foam used to use as filler in cheap sofas, more and more consumers want to know about the esoteric and confusing acronyms which differentiate great ingredients from crap.

And while we are happy to explain this technical jargon, I want to be clear that these technical specs alone do not give you a real indication of the comfort of a particular memory foam mattress or topper. A lot of it has to do with the outer fabric, quilting, and other elements, but the durability and level of comfort and support can often be revealed by understanding ILD (Indentation Load Deflection) and IFD (essentially the same thing).

Because high density foams are typically a complex material that has a tremendous range of firm vs. soft, buoyant vs. cradling, and more, and these ingredients also have other characteristics such as their responsiveness to heat and humidity differently due to their different formulations, understanding all of this is pretty complex. They also have differences in their cell structure (the various degree of “openness” of their cell structure) which can also affect a foam feel and pressure relief characteristics. We’ll try to keep it simple and relevant to give you the basics.

Some foam layers may have the same specs in terms of density (which is just the weight of the foam, specifically the weight of a cubic foot of the foam (a cube of foam that is a foot in each dimension) but still have very different sensations. ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, basically is a number which represents how many pounds of compression on one cubic foot of foam it requires to compress the block one inch in a controlled environment — the higher the number, the more pressure that was needed, so the stiffer the foam.  A typical layer of memory foam, as an example, which would be considered fairly soft might have and ILD of 13.  Foam used for car seats may have ILD of over 50, on the other hand.

The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) actually produces guidelines, rarely disclosed to the public, but rather to manufacturers and fabricators, that offer a range of comparison of various kinds of foam used in bedding production, and in other industries.

The PFA has purposely avoided using the word "comfort" directly associated with ILD properties. Suffice to say, ILD is a part of the comfort equation, but ILD is not always related directly to comfort.

ILD Ratings The Mattress Industry Uses As General Comfort Guidelines- The Down And Dirty Info To Ask Anyone Who Is Trying To Sell You A Mattress

6--12--------------Bed pillows, thick back pillows

12-18--------------back pillows, upholstery padding, wraps

18-24--------------thin back pillows, tufting matrix (the quilt on top), very thick seat cushions

24-30--------------average seat cushions, upholstery padding, tight seats, certain mattress types, quilting (foam used in middle or top layers of mattresses typically fall in this range, described as softer or cushier, more nest like in nature)

30-36--------------firmer seat cushions, slightly firmer, less yielding mattresses

36-45--------------thin seat cushioning and very firm mattresses- excellent for people over 200 lbs., and typically used on base layer (support or foundation layer) for a lot of bed in a box beds as the bottom layer only.

45 and up----------shock absorbing foams, packaging foams, carpet pads, and other uses requiring ultra-firm foams. RARELY used or necessary in mattresses.

The above table should only be used as a beginning guideline. The actual ILD perceived is again going to include the top quilted outer covering and other factors, such as the design type, whether coil systems are integrated into the design, and other parameters.

Bottom line, the sweet spot, in our opinion, for a great bed, that will generally work for the typical human with no health issues, back problems, and with average time in bed at around 6-9 hours, would probably have a build out of 32-36 ILD on the bottom layer, usually 5-6 inches thick. probably a middle layer about 2-3” that has an ILD of 24-28 ILD, and would be topped off with a 2” layer of 20-16 ILD material. Look for a softly quilted cover, preferably a natural fabric, and you’ll be whittling down your options. If you can get the ingredients described above in a queen size for around $700-800, or a king for $800-1000, you’re getting a fairly good deal on a decent mattress.

Why Brick And Mortar Mattress Stores Are Dying

We’ve all seen it. The rise of the online, rolled and compressed, bed in a box mega e-tailers. Their ads follow us endlessly on social media, in airports, on buses. Hundreds of companies have risen up in the last few years to challenge the traditional brick and mortar mattress buying model, the hovering salesman with his tie dangling in your face as you lie upon one mattress after another, under the glare of fluorescent lighting. It’s like getting an alien probing, scary, horrifying, the worst way to try out mattress.

Order online, and you likely pay a fourth of the brick and mortar store price, because you’re not paying rent, company salaries, employee 401K’s, utility bills, and middleman fees and commissions. And, you can order a bed, it gets delivered to your doorstep, you can try it out for 30 days or more, and if you don’t like it, you send an email or make a quick call, and the mattress will be picked up and all of your money will be given back to you so you can try another bed. It’s absolutely perfect. Why didn’t the brick and mortar retail side of the business see this coming?

The easy answer is that the traditional mattress industry was very resistant to change. After all, mattresses hadn’t changed much in a hundred years, and the business was self perceived as an invincible, untouchable American institution. The CEO of The Mattress Buyer Guide was doing the bed in a box thing waaay before Casper and other big etailers. He could see it coming back then, in 2005, ten years before Casper, Tuft And Needle, Loom And Leaf, and others were even invented.

Marc Anderson mentioned it to friends in the business? Is Sealy, Simmons, Serta, and Tempur-Pedic, are they watching this? In 2007 Marc launched a web business selling pre-compressed pure latex mattresses directly to a consumers door. It was a huge success, from the start. He remembers thinking “there is a revolution coming, one that will reinvent the mattress buying world”. And he was right. By the time the brick and mortar segment of the marketplace realized their fate, it was too late. This year, Mattress Firm, one of the largest conventional mattress retailers, filed for bankruptcy, not have an alternative model in place.

The reality is that there are consumers who want to feel the mattress, test drive it, before they buy. But when you weigh the convenience and now the safety and security of buying online, many people are switching gears about how they shop. The biggest reason behind it all?

Mattress review sites, especially true third party sites that aren’t pimping for manufacturers. They provide real time opinions and suggestions, videos, blog content, and a pooled resource to get a general consensus about which etailer has the best mattress option. The internet is like one giant mattress department store. Lots of choices, plenty of reviews, and with competition furious and heated, almost every etailer that survives more than a year is likely going to be a safe bet, wanting to deliver a pretty good product. Faster than a speeding bullet, the mattress industry was disrupted by a new breed of retailers and marketing wizards.

Foam Mattresses: Myths And Misconceptions

One of the most commonly asked questions we get via email and our Facebook page is “All of these big selling mattresses appear to be the same, which one should I buy?”, eluding to the overwhelming choices of foam hybrid mattresses available, especially online. Now that the dust has settled after the so-called “mattress disruptors” came in to being in the last five years, companies like Casper, Tuft&Needle, Loom And Leaf, Purple, an others, and it’s at least easy to look at maybe four or five big players (generally the companies throwing the most venture capital at the wall), to make a reasonable choice. Still, many shoppers seem to think that most of the mattresses are essentially the same, and other than the colors of the individual layers of foam, the outer fabric covering, and the story on the web site, the beds probably feel fairly similar. And, in fact, they would be correct.

When you’re dealing with polyurethane foam, latex, gel foam like the Purple ice cube tray foam (technically their foam is termed “column buckling” polymer foam), you can get a little variation in the feel of the bed, from spongy to firm and rigid, to bouncy, to a little sumptuous, still, a foam mattress will alway be a foam mattress, and the profile of comfort, or should we say the range of comfort options is not going to vary from say, one to ten. More like four to seven. Still, you can find enough variation to please one person over another, as we tend to pretty persnickety when it comes to finding the perfect sleep surface.

I recommend reading our down and dirty 15 minute mattress review guide to at least give you an overview of the general options out there. Another FAQ we get is what is a reasonable price to pay, for let’s say a queen size foam bed that will last a fair amount of time, won’t collapse and fall apart, and is supportive and comfortable? We say that generally speaking, the pricepoint of $600-900 seems about right, to get quality components, a good return policy built in, and a warranty that covers your rear for a few years. If you’re buying an all natural ltex mattress though, which is not polyurethane foam based, and uses more expensive botanically sourced material, expect to pay around $1200-1500, with the same general benefits. To see who we recommend, check out our Trusted Dealer page to get started.

Remember, buying a mattress can be a fun and enjoyable experience!

Bright Lights, Especially Blue Computer And Tablet Light, Can Destroy Your Sleep Hygiene

If you have trouble sleeping, laptop or tablet use at bedtime might be to blame… new research suggests that the bluish white glow radiating from your cell phone, laptop, or tablet as you lie in bed at night may be disrupting your body’s ability to allow you to fall asleep. Mariana Figueiro of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her team showed that two hours of iPad use at maximum brightness was enough to suppress people's normal night time release of melatonin, a key hormone in the body's clock, or circadian system. Melatonin tells your body that it is time to nod off, helping to make you sleepy. If you delay that signal, Figueiro says, you could delay sleep. Other research indicates that “if you do that chronically, for many years, it can lead to disruption of the circadian system,” sometimes with serious health consequences, she explains.

The dose of light is important, Figueiro says; the brightness and exposure time, as well as the wavelength, determine whether it affects melatonin. Light in the blue-and-white range emitted by today's tablets can do the trick—as can laptops and desktop computers, which emit even more of the disrupting light but are usually positioned farther from the eyes, which ameliorates the light's effects. The team designed light-detector goggles and had subjects wear them during late-evening tablet use. The light dose measurements from the goggles correlated with hampered melatonin production.

On the bright side, a morning shot of screen time could be used as light therapy for seasonal affective disorder and other light-based problems. Figueiro hopes manufacturers will “get creative” with tomorrow's tablets, making them more “circadian friendly,” perhaps even switching to white text on a black screen at night to minimize the light dose. Until then, do your sleep schedule a favor and turn down the brightness of your glowing screens before bed—or switch back to good old-fashioned books.

How Building Up "Sleep Credit" Increases Grey Matter Volume And Better Mental Health

In modern society, people often fail to obtain the amount of sleep that experts recommend for good health and performance. Insufficient sleep can lead to degraded cognitive performance and alterations in emotional functioning, truly affecting health and well being.. However, most people also acknowledge that on a regular basis they obtain more sleep than they subjectively perceive they need at a minimum to maintain alertness, higher energy levels, and better work performance, something that you might call “sleep credit”. Few people would contest the notion that getting more sleep is better, but data on both behavioral and neuroanatomical correlates of 'sleep credit' are surprisingly limited. A group of scientists however, recently created a study to see if cerebral grey matter volume correlates with habitually sleeping more than a typical night’s sleep, say 6-7 hours. In a sample of 55 healthy adults aged 18-45 years (28 males, 27 females), the study showed that habitual subjective 'sleep credit' was correlated positively with increases in grey matter volume within regions of the left medial prefrontal cortex and right orbito-frontal gyrus, two very important “critical thinking” areas of the brain. Increased grey matter volume of the medial prefrontal cortex cluster correlated with greater emotional intelligence and lower scores involving psychopathology, or psychological deficits. The findings supplement with previous evidence of the role of the medial prefrontal cortex in the relationship between sleep and emotional functioning, and suggest that behavior and brain structure improve when you stockpile good sleep. Makes perfect sense, considering that during sleep, your brain is busy reconstructing itself, filtering out toxins and waste products, and developing fresh neural connections and repairing the connections much like a lineman on a telephone pole.

Casper, Tuft&Needle, Loom And Leaf, Purple...Too Many Options?

Shopping for that perfect mattress used to be simple. The local fluorescent cavern filled with dozens of beds, Chad the mattress salesman leading you to the perfect bed, his easy manner and too close for comfort hovering, were all part of the experience. We were led like sheep to some version of an innerspring mattress with a poofy pillowtop that kind of all felt the same. But at least you could try your bed out in the store first. So how has a seemingly bullet proof way to buy a bed suddenly become completely unpopular, and why are there so many beds for sale online?

The answer is convenience. Ten years ago, only a handful of online retailers were in the mattress business. Trying to convince someone that you were going to mash their mattress and stuff it in a box, and ship it their front door was not easy. Pages of convincing and lyrical copy was required to get anyone to pull the trigger online, instead of making the journey to the Mattress Mart. These days, there are dozens of options, all of which are shipped rolled and compressed. The technology is so widely used, that no one questions it, in fact, online retailers make the whole process a magical experience of mystical reinflation. That being overcome, and the marketplace online opened wide, and product and marketing saavy entrepreneurs swept the internet, each with their own version of the perfect bed.

The pioneers like Healthy Foundations and Habitat Furnishings no longer sell beds, but a few like BedInABox.Com are still around. The wizards of the industry that follow us around on social media, buses, trains, TV, and airplane magazines basically beat us into submission until we buy. They all have a story to tell, how amazingly comfortable their bed is, how their mattress is a "one size fits all" engineering marvel, with strange ingredients like "Dreamfoam" and "Copper Infused Soybean Based Pressure Relieving Comfort Layers" are what you want your back to be on, overwhelm us. The secret code to unravel the mystery? Look for a bed that has great reviews, make sure they are real and not on the web site you are visiting, but elsewhere, and look for that 100 night no questions asked trial, and a good warranty. If you can get your money back, no questions asked, enjoy. Try two or three out for a week or so, and you've just brought the Mattress Mart to your own bedroom. No Chad, hovering over you. Check out our Trusted Dealer page to see who we recommend online for that perfect bed.

Understanding The Importance Of Density When Buying A Memory Foam Bed

Memory foam comes in a wide variety of densities, and we often get asked what this density number means and how to compare memory foams.

First, what is density. This is the weight of a memory foams, and tells you a bit about it. The higher the number, the more material is in the foam, and so the more cushion as a general rule

However, in my experience, as the density gets higher -- above 4 lb/cubic foot (or 4 lb from here on out), the memory foam gets stiffer feeling. A 5 lb memory foam can have a nice feel, but I generally recommend a 4 lb memory foam as the top layer in a bed or in a topper since it offers the sweet spot of a soft conforming feel and a nice amount of cushion.

What does a 4 lb/cubic foot density mean? It just means that a cube of this foam that is a foot in each dimension weighs 4 lbs.

This measure of density doesn't give you any sense of the firmness of the foam. This is measured by another number called either the ILD or IFD, which measures how much pressure it takes to compress this foam a certain amount. The lower the number the softer the foam (since it takes a lesser amount of pressure to compress it is a lower number).

Memory foams are, in general soft foams, and the 4 lb memory foam I sold typically had ILD's of around 10 - 15.

These two numbers (density and ILD) alone, though, don't tell the whole story on a memory foam.

Two memory foams with identical numbers can feel very different to sleep on since other issues are how a memory foam responds to temperature. Memory foams are what are called visco-elastic foams, and that means they are viscous at colder temps (so firmer) and more elastic at warmer temps (so softer). But each memory foam has its own characteristics, and so one memory foam could be firmer at typical home temps and one with a different temp responsiveness could be much softer.

One example of this is the classic Tempur-Pedic (tm) Tempur (tm) foam which can be pretty firm at room temps that fall below 70 degrees where as the topper foam I've carried was generally soft at these temps so it was more user friendly.

This is important, so try to research this through the reviews you find on-line for the particular memory foam mattress or topper you are interested in.

Another issue is how hot the memory foam sleeps -- or another way of looking at it is the air flow of the memory foam. Latest generation memory foams, which are often more expensive than standard memory foams or the cheap memory foam from China, has much better air flow -- some claim 95+% better air flow. And this translates to cooler sleep. In my own experience with this with the last topper we carried, we got almost no complaints of it sleeping hot or having an odor, and I attribute this to it being this more expensive memory foam offering much better air flow.

So when you are shopping for memory foam, do take density into account, but density isn't an end all/be all and it is important to also look at other characteristics like the firmness of the memory foam (ILD) as well as it temperature sensitivity and also its air flow characteristics.

Which Is Better? A 2" Thick Topper Pad Or A 3" Version?

This is probably the most frequently asked question we got about topper pads in general, and we go over this in detail on our topper pad page. Whether to go with a 2" or 3" thickness, whether it's memory foam, latex, gel foam, or conventional polyurethane foam.

First, I should explain why I never recommended a thinner or thicker topper pad than 3"inches. A thinner, 1" topper pad really didn't provide enough cushion, and if you felt that your mattress was so firm as to need a 4" topper, I felt people were better off spending the money on a new mattress that wasn't so firm rather than trying to fix it with a topper pad. Of course it depends upon what kind of material you are talking about, too. For example, for most people of typical height and weight, we advise 3" almost all across the board. If you are over 145 lbs, definitely opt for a higher density material such as 4lb memory foam, vs. less dense 3lb, which tends to bottom out, especially if you were to buy a 2" thick pad. For latex, a medium firm (not soft) 3" pad is generally the sweet spot, and will do the job for most people. Also, latex can be pretty heavy, and it tears easily when tossed around, so keep that in mind.

Choosing the right topper pad is also a direct function of what is wrong with the mattress you have bought the topper for, so say if you are trying to soften up a crazy firm bed, go with 3" of something on the medium side, not too soft or too firm. So for those with a mattress that was just a bit softer, or bottomed out too much, you definitely want to go a tad firmer so you don't collapse into the mattress. Topper pads usually do the trick, too. With a return rate of only 2 - 3%, our 2" toppers are a solid gamble on salvaging a mattress until you are ready to buy a new one.

Also, these days, keep in mind that memory foam, especially, does not sleep as hot as they used to,  since the latest generation memory foam offers much better air flow than solder more dense memory foams. So when you are shopping around, you might want to ask if the memory foam used in that topper pad is a latest generation memory foam offering this greater air flow.

These latest generation memory foams (usually contains a gel component) are a tad more expensive, though, but in my experience they are worth it.

How To Improve Your Sleep Hygiene- It's Not As Hard As You Think

If you’ve become accustomed to tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling for hours on end as part of your nightly ritual, it’s time to take action. Difficulty falling or staying asleep isn’t just an annoyance. Sleep disorders—as you may have noticed—result in sleep deprivation, which can interfere with your job, social activities, and overall health. In fact, lack of sleep increases your risk of premature death, Alzheimer’s disease, organ system failure and much more.

We spend a third of our lives asleep because we need that time to repair and restore our cognitive function and physical energy, sustain our immune and nervous systems, and help manage our hormones and weight. Your brain requires sleep to refuel, dispense waste material, and reboot, on a daily basis. Sleep- though we may view it as a waste of time, is the sacrifice we must make in order to have a higher order onboard super computer at our disposal during the day.

At least 40 million Americans endure chronic sleep disorders each year, and 20 million more experience occasional sleeping problems, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. If you’re among the 60 million, try some of the natural sleep remedies we’ve cultivated from trusted sources like the National Sleep Foundation.

Schedule Down Time And Quick Naps During The Day

Sure, there are some major benefits to taking a 20-minute snooze mid-day, but napping isn’t for everyone, according to the Mayo Clinic. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10 to 30 minute naps for short-term alertness and improved performance; any longer and you up your odds of experiencing sleep inertia, which is characterized by short-term grogginess and disorientation. What’s more, napping at the “wrong” time of day can affect your sleep quality, making it difficult to fall asleep or sleep soundly through the night. For example, if you take a nap late in the evening, it can throw off your natural sleep patterns. But a quick nap on your commute in to work in the morning, or a midday power nap in your office can be beneficial to restoring alertness. 

Reduce Your Caffeine Load

Sure, you know you shouldn’t have coffee right before bed. But did you know that your 4PM cold brew could be responsible for wrecking your sleep? A study from the Wayne State College of Medicine found evidence that caffeine taken even up to 6 hours before bedtime disrupts sleep, so get your espresso in the morning, and be sure to leave a minimum of six hours of stimulant-free food and beverage consumption before bed.  

Stop The Damn Smoking

People who smoke cigarettes are four times as likely as nonsmokers to feel exhausted, cranky and tired after a night’s sleep, according to a study from the American College of Chest Physicians. The researchers believe the stimulating effect (similar to coffee) of nicotine prevents smokers from staying in deep sleep because their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms each night. 

Keep Intense Workouts Scheduled For AM, And Walk In The Evening

 Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine measured the effects of 10 different physical activities on approximately 430,000 men and women’s quality and duration of sleep (relative to walking or no activity at all). In the study, those who did yoga, Pilates, aerobics and calisthenics, biked, gardened, golfed, ran, and lifted weights experienced low instances of insufficient sleep. Just keep the super intense workouts to the a.m.—otherwise your body could be too fired up to relax before bed, which is conducive to sleep. And the activities that encouraged poor sleep habits? Adults who did household chores and took care of children. We know what you’re thinking, but it’s probably not a good idea to skimp on these activities. If anything, try to share the responsibility with your roommate or significant other; a study actually found couples who share chore responsibilities are happier.

Lose Spicy, Fatty, And Fried Food

You obviously don’t want to go to bed with a full three-course meal in your belly, nor do you want to be starving—both will impede your ability to fall asleep. But it’s not just about the amount of food, you eat. The type of grub you snack on before bed can also have a marked influence on how well you sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Foods like eggs, chicken, fish, and nuts contain roughly the same amount of tryptophan (an amino acid that gets converted into melatonin—a sleep-inducing hormone) as turkey. But whole wheat crackers with a bit of peanut butter, or cereal with milk might even be a better choice, the NSF says. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more readily available to the brain, so pair carb-rich foods with tryptophan-rich foods. Just steer clear of spicy, fatty, and fried foods, as these can upset your stomach (i.e. acid reflux) the NSF adds. 

Get Out In The Sun…Your Body Is Crying Out For It

Bad news if your office has no windows: Natural light exposure during the day improves sleep, physical activity, and overall quality of life. The study, from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found employees who work near windows received 173 percent more white light exposure during work and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than employees who had no natural light exposure. Take your coworker up on his or her offer for coffee. Even if you don’t buy anything, the stroll can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep for longer at night. 

Minimize Your Blue Light Exposure

Your circadian clock needs complete and utter darkness to produce the hormone melatonin. So you can see the problem electronics in the bedroom pose. You may enjoy scrolling through your Twitter feed before bed, but the photoreceptors in your retina signal your brain that it’s time to be alert, not settle down, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It’s also easy to lose track of time trolling through your social media feeds and answering work emails. Put down the phone at least an hour before bed; you’ll feel less stressed and have an easier time falling asleep. 

Cool Down Your Sleep Environment

To fall asleep and stay asleep, you need to achieve thermo-neutrality. In short, to get maximal sleep, you need to be in an environment where your body temperature can dip and maintain that temperature throughout the night. Researc has found the ideal temperature for thermo-neutrality is 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re wearing pajamas and sleep with bedding. If you get too hot, you become restless, and your body will wake itself up. Another alternative: Sleep naked. There are a slew of health benefits to snoozing nude.

 Meditate Or Watch ASMR Videos

If you want serious Z’s you’ve got to say ohm, well, sort of. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine discovered practicing mindfulness meditation, a practice focused on breathing and overall awareness of the present moment, can help diminish sleep disturbances like difficulties falling or staying asleep. Checkout some ASMR videos and plug in your ear buds, but be prepared to levitate across the room. Autonomic  Sensory Meridian Response is a technique used to relax and calm the brain using what amounts to simulated back scratching, that feeling you get when someone brushes your hair, or files your nails, or…gives you that incredible shave. Just go Google it. You’ll be blown away and a lot sleepier.

Sniff Some Herb- Like Lavender

We get it, you’re not into aromatherapy, but smelling lavender can be the part of your evening regimen that solves your sleeping setbacks. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center. lavender can calm your nervous system, improve sleep quality, and promote relaxation in men and women who suffer from sleep disorders. Still not convinced? Research suggests massage with lavender essential oil can also result in improved sleep quality. 

Use Your Bed For Sleep And Sex Only

The National Sleep Foundation advises against watching TV, listening to music, or reading in bed. Sure, it’s comfortable, but you want to create a mind-body connection with your bed and sleep—not a Netflix marathon. Keep your extracurricular activities to other spaces in your home or apartment. The one exception? Sex. 

Soak In Your Tub

Research has shown a hot bath or shower can prompt your body to go to sleep. The warmth increases your internal body temperature, and when you get out, that temperature drops significantly. It mimics your body’s natural temperature dip when falling asleep and signals it’s time for bed. Selecting a relaxing bedtime ritual, like taking a hot bath or listening to calming music can help ease you into sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. 

Drink Tea

Make like the British and brew some herbal tea, particularly chamomile. Research shows chamomile tea can be used as a mild sedative to calm the nerves, reduce anxiety, nightmares, and insomnia. Drink up!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you suffer from insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy might be the best plan of action. It includes regular, even weekly, visits to a clinician, who will give you a series of sleep assessments, a sleep diary, and work with you in sessions to help change the way you sleep, according to the NSF. Research backs up the efficiency of CBT-I; it can help you fall asleep faster, improve your overall total sleep time, and sleep quality.  

Stimulus Control Therapy

If you struggle to fall asleep nearly every night, you’ve probably developed some bad habits like watching your alarm clock, counting the exact number of hours and minutes until you have to wake up, stressing about how miserable you’re going to feel the next day, and worrying about all the work that needs to get done. That needs to stop, according to the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute, which uses stimulus control therapy to break negative associations insomnia patients have with their bed as a place of frustration. Follow suit. Turn your alarm clock against the wall so you can’t see the time or flip your phone screen-down and place it across the room to avoid the temptation to check. If you can’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes (we know, we just told you to hide your clocks, but use your best judgment), then get out of bed; this will break the association of bed=dread. And put a bad night’s sleep in a positive light; instead of seeing it as a catastrophe, think it’ll be easier to fall asleep the following night.

 

Fake Mattress Reviews And Getting Scammed- Beware!

 

No one wants to drag themselves to the local mattress mega-retailer and spend Saturday schlepping around a showroom while being followed around by the sales guy with black gauges in his ear lobes the size of saucers who hovers over you as you try out each-and-every mattress. A mattress that seems comfy enough, even though you have absolutely no clue about what’s inside the thing, how long it will last, how many people really love it, and on and on. Strangely, all of the mattresses on the showroom floor kind of feel the same. Why is that?

Yeah, you can probably find two or three that feel comfortable, and they would probably work, but how do you get it back to the store if you don’t like it? Do you get a trial period to test it out? Is this price really the best deal? Should I just go online and order a bed so I don’t have to deal with this guy any longer? The answer is, yes. What are you thinking??

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Maybe you end up giving in and abandon all hope, kind of like when you are shopping for a car, and it’s 3pm and you say, let’s just do it. “ I want to get out of here”. You buy the ‘DreamFoam Gel-Soy-Bamboo Wonder Coil Hybrid” with the “Fair Trade Avocado Fiber Luxe Plush Top” and Todd the 19 year old sales guy gives you a free mattress protector just in case you “have an accident”, and you go home. Todd finances you for 7 years and the monthly payment is only $79 a month.

Fantastic. Guess what? You’ve just had your ass kicked by the mattress industry. If you purchase a bed, that let’s say cost $1,500, and you finance it, you’re likely paying another $500 on top of the mattress itself in interest. We say, set aside $1,000 and buy a bed online, and do not finance it.

Buy A Mattress Online. It’s Proven, It’s Easy, It’s Less Expensive, And You’re Going To Get A Quality Bed.

In the last five years, dozens of companies offering “bed in a box” type mattresses that are delivered directly to your door have dominated the bedding business, and for good reason. Buying a mattress eliminates every aspect of the hassle factor when attempting to purchase one of the most important products of your life. More than ever, getting a decent night’s sleep is or should be a high priority in our work/life equation, and with more and more research demonstrating that poor sleep can have life altering consequences, buying a bed that fits your sleep profile is really important.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR LIST OF VETTED DEALERS TO GET YOUR PERFECT BED

Of course, most people have absolutely no clue where to start looking when shopping for a mattress, and typically start nosing around online, or immediately head straight for the sites who advertise incessantly and follow us around on social media day in, day out. Because of the popularity of a few brands, friends and family may nudge you to buy the mattress they have purchased.

If you’ve already done the brick and mortar retail experience, you already know that mattresses are overpriced, they all sort of feel the same, and with fifty choices on the salesroom floor, you’ll likely walk out with a migraine and a pile of brochures, frustrated and promising yourself you’ll never go back.

Buying a mattress online is really easy, reliable, proven, and fun. First of all, we recommend a few things. If you’re looking for a competitively priced bed, stick with a foam mattress, that is a bed constructed of various laminated layers of specialized foam like polyurethane foam, memory or gel foam, and natural latex. Often, the best “cake mix” for a great “bed in a box” is an orderly composition of firmer support foam on the bottom, a memory foam layer, and a latex layer, wrapped in a breathable fabric exterior like bamboo fiber, organic cotton, or Tencel, a natural fiber with a little Rayon in it that sleeps cool.

Regardless of where you buy your foam mattress online, they are all going to feel fairly similar, trust us, and you should be able to buy a decent queen sized mattress for around $950 or so. There are general guidelines for firmness, so a trip to the retail store just to get an idea of the level of cushiness you need might be a good idea. A recon mission, of sorts.

In addition, you’re going to find that because of the fierce competition online, you’ll get a no questions asked trial period of 90 days or more that entitles you to a full refund and free returns,  a great warranty of 10-15 years, delightful customer service, and a few freebies, if you chat online with a sales agent and squeeze them a bit. We’ve done this with a few of the major online stores, and ended up getting free sheets, pillows, and a mattress protector thrown into the deal. Ask and you will receive, when it comes to buying a bed online.

Watch Out For Fake Reviews On So-Called “Mattress Review Sites”

Along with the proliferation of “bed in a box” mattress companies rapidly exploding online, there is also a huge number of so called “mattress review” sites. Our site, and its sister site, www.mattressreports.com, were the first of the true mattress reviews and consumer education sites that provided real time advice and information on how to find the perfect mattress. We fist launched this site in 2007. Most of the “review” sites that you will find now, have only been around since 2013-2014, and are largely built on profit sharing affiliate marketing deals cut with the mattress retailers.

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Almost always, when you Google “mattress reviews” and find the first two pages cluttered with these sites providing what appears to be third party opinions and reviews about various mattress products and then conveniently linking you to their sites, the owners of many of these review platforms are getting HUGE kickbacks from the retailers, and therefore, to drive commissions, hype their reviews with completely false or misleading information. Of course, not all of these sites are intentionally misleading consumers, in fact, any of them are legitimate and actually do receive mattresses and evaluate them.

Sadly, that brings us to the worst part about most of the fake review sites out there. In almost all cases, the review sites are owned by software or marketing types who are not seasoned mattress industry veterans. Our site for example, is operated by bedding industry CEO’s and have worked in the design and engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and fulfillment side of the business, in the trenches, for decades.

The reviews you will likely read regarding many of the mattresses out there, are merely based on opinions that don’t incorporate technical information in them, for example, why one kind of polyurethane foam is softer, why blended latex is better, or which memory foam density is better for people with back or neck problems, something that is commonly discussed on our site. You’ll get plenty of pictures of bowling balls or kettle bells mashing down a piece of foam or a mattress, but what does that really tell you? Unfortunately, not much.

Also, you can waste hours of time reading fake reviews on sites that tout one mattress over the other, show endless graphs and charts, and offering painful, longwinded videos of guys sitting on the edge of mattresses and telling you in completely non-technical language why you should spend $1,200 on a particular bed. Instead, we recommend finding third party sites that offer technical information about various types of mattresses, why certain components offer different levels of comfort and support, and limiting your options to a few good candidates, rather than sorting through dozens and dozens of options. Consider companies that you may not have heard of before, because many smaller companies are often more fussy and particular, may even bench build their mattresses in smaller production facilities rather than huge third party fabrication centers, and tend to be easier to contact by phone or chat.

Take a look at our Where To Buy page, and see how we have whittled down, in very technical fashion, hundreds of options to virtually a handful of choices, including foam hybrid beds, coil and foam, memory foam, latex, and even alternative bedding such as copper infused and magnetic therapy bedding.  

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Bed In A Box Companies Struggle To Compete, Offer Free Returns

In recent years, a number of new companies have entered the online bed in a box game. Five years ago, there may have been 6-8 of these companies, and now they number in the hundreds. It’s an easy game to get into. A little seed money, finding a third party fabricator (these companies have exploded, along with the companies that sell the compression and roll packing machines to the third party fabricators), a really slick web site and marketing gimmick, and you’re in business. We call this the “two guys and a laptop” business model. 

Rarely are the founders and mattress designers bedding experts, in fact, the dominating forces in the mattress industry these days are software engineers and tekkies. The first wave of “mattress disruptors” as the industry calls them turned the marketplace on its head, by turning the clinically sterile and horribly not fun task of buying a mattress into a really amazing experience.  But, how do you encourage people to buy a mattress sight unseen? 

The answer lies in simply redirecting the robotic tendency we have all developed through decades of conditioning, of visiting giant fluorescent lit mattress showrooms on Saturday, and submitting to the inked up hovering sales dude who watches you while you test drive plastic wrapped mattresses. Nightmare. Now, you simply Google “best mattress”, nose through the top three or four ads or listings, and baddda bing, two clicks, and its on its way. The gimmick is, very simply, to allow you to return the mattress, no questions asked, for any reason, it you think it sucks. Full refund. Donate to charities, blah, blah. Very noble. Give me my money back.

Companies like Casper, Helix, Leesa, Saatva, and Tuft & Needle, and many others, have declared that they will abide by this ingenious marketing strategy… this is fantastic for all of us as consumers, assuming they actually follow through. Let’s begin with something that should have been obvious to mattress retailers decades ago but apparently was not: Buying bedding in a showroom is absurd. Most of us spend a quarter to a third of our lives on mattresses, and they are essential to our physical and mental health. So testing an endless sea of mattress that all look and basically feel the same, while fully clothed, makes no sense whatsoever, does it?

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Truly, buying a mattress is sooooo much easier now. Ron Lieber, A New York times columnist, put the return issue to the maximum test. He tested five mattresses that advertised no charge to return the mattresses that he had purchased. All five of the companies he tested charged him nothing for the return. Only Saatva charged a shipping or delivery fee, and its $99 covered three guys showing up at his apartment with a compressed and rolled mattress and carefully carrying it inside. The other four companies roll and compress their mattresses and sleeve them into boxes for shipping, requiring you to unpack and unfurl the mattress on your own, though Casper offered free courier delivery of the box in my neighborhood.

Lieber offered zero recommendations on comfort. He claimed “mattresses are like shoes or bras or chairs in that different people with different bodies will have different needs”. We essentially agree to that, though if a mattress is designed properly, it can be very specifically crafted to meet the needs of a variety of bodies looking for soft vs firm, bouncy vs spongy, and so on.

As for the hassle of returning an unwanted mattress, none of the companies “flunked the test”. Leesa normally requires customers to keep a mattress for at least 30 days before returning it, but it waived that rule when Lieber sent an email questioning the logic of that policy when he explained that he was done with it, and didn’t want it anymore.

Like most online sellers, Tuft & Needle compresses the mattresses for shipping. Saatva sent a crew to pick up its mattress, pretty effortless. Still, many things happened during the return process that  Lieber never could have predicted. It’s not practical for individual consumers to recompress their beds, shove them in the original boxes and hand them back over to UPS or FedEx, though one early Tuft & Needle customer did manage to box up his mattress for return and stick the company with a $300 shipping bill, according to a review Lieber read.

So the surprises began when Casper, Helix and Leesa dispatched the 1-800-Got-Junk truck to fetch my never-been-slept-on bedding. Under normal circumstances, the companies try to find a way to get returned mattresses to a needy person. Helix claims to have 3,000 donation partners in its database.

But when it came to Ron’s five mattresses, the local Salvation Army truck was booked until October, according to the customer service representatives at Tuft & Needle and Helix who tried to help me before calling in the junk haulers. Bedbug-fearing nonprofit groups and strict New York City regulations posed special challenges for the companies in his area, it turns out.

Saatva guaranteed that a local delivery company will bring your mattress. Lieber’s came wrapped in plastic, though not compressed. Evan Cohen, the general manager of the 1-800-Got-Junk franchise that covers Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, says that it manages to completely recycle 30 to 40 percent of the mattresses. The other mattresses go to transfer stations, where some parts of them may be recycled before the rest of the material ends up in a landfill.

Lieber states that the potential environmental cost of returns is bad enough. But these bed in a box companies must also pay 1-800-Got-Junk to haul the mattresses away. Mr. Cohen said that he would charge an individual $118 to haul away an old mattress. The bed in a box companies  that hire the company to handle returned mattresses get a bulk discount.

Still, Lieber says, the return costs are high enough on mattresses that ranged from about $550 to about $950 to have the potential to cause serious problems for the companies, already dropping prices in order to remain in the game with the endless influx of newer and fresher bed in a box startups. Lieber continues, saying David Wolfe, chief executive of Leesa, claimed he was all for the unalienable right to an in-home trial. “But it’s not going to be helpful for the industry if people start to order multiple mattresses,” he said.

He urged consumers to thoroughly research any mattress purchase before starting an in-home trial. “And you can’t blame the guy for not wanting to end up like Zappos, where people frequently order piles of shoes with the intention of keeping just one or two pairs”, Ron claims.

All of the companies Lieber bought mattresses from claim return rates below 10 percent. 1-800-Got-Junk reports having taken in about 9,000 mattresses this year on behalf of the various direct-selling mattress retailers it works with. Tuft & Needle provided the most unusual return experience he had ever seen as a consumer. Its website promises that “we” will work together to donate a returned mattress. “It’s that easy,” the site reads.

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In reality, the company could not find a charity partner near him at all. So it posed a challenge of sorts. He could find a worthy organization on his own and send Tuft & Needle a receipt of sorts, with a signature from the recipient. If that didn’t work he could give the mattress to a friend or family member in need and provide similar proof. If that didn’t fly, he could post a note on Craigslist offering to give the mattress away. And if that wasn’t possible, the junk truck was an option.

Given that the other companies had already told me how hard it was to give a mattress away in New York City, he wasn’t optimistic. He posted a note on his personal Facebook page, and a friend he’d made years ago and hadn’t seen since popped up to tell him about a sex-trafficking victim her organization was helping. The client had just moved to a new apartment with her family and was sleeping on the floor. Could Lieber help her? And sorry but no, the organization had no moving truck or anything like that.

Helix claims to have 3,000 donation partners in its database, which was how Ron Lieber found himself behind the wheel of a rental van a few nights later with a case manager from Sanctuary for Families, driving to a neighborhood in Queens that the organization asked him not to identify. “We hauled the mattress up a narrow flight of stairs and dropped it off for the grateful recipient”, he claims.  “I will be able to sleep happy for once,” the grateful recipient said.

That was a heartwarming and unexpected ending to what was supposed to be a virtual shopping experience, but I need not have left my own apartment. Daehee Park, a co-founder of Tuft & Needle, said that if Lieber had spoken up about the van rental bill and the time-consuming nature of the potential donation, the company might have hired a errand runner from Taskrabbit to handle it. “We try to do what we can,” he said.

Like Mr. Wolfe at Leesa, however, Mr. Park does worry about people abusing their in-home testing privileges (though he declined The New York Times’s offer to pay in full after all, as did the other companies). He and his competitors deserve enormous credit for trying to make free, in-home trials the price of admission for participating in the mattress industry, and all of us should demand the same deal from brick-and-mortar retailers.

So now that the mattress start-ups have proved that they’re serious about real-world sleep tests, please don’t take undue advantage of them. “You can never prevent people from gaming a system,” Mr. Park said.

The key to bearing the heavy financial burden of returned mattresses and surviving to see the next day in the hyper-competitive world of online mattress sales, is volume. However, the key to that, is keeping prices low and taking advantage of social media and developing hype about your product. The cost to build a typical $950 mattress is relatively low, even when using pretty good materials, around $225. Factor in one out of ten being returned, assuming they have to be picked up by a removal service, about $50 per mattress to spread the cost, bringing the cost to $275. Add marketing and advertising, shipping, overhead and other fixed expenses, and you’re at about $800 in total costs. That leaves $150 in gross profit, which pay the owners salaries, R&D for new products, and miscellaneous expenses.

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Not surprisingly, the key is to move one hell of a lot of beds. And the competition gets fiercer every day. Once everyone has bought a bed, and consider that we replace our beds once every 10-15 years on average, though the industry suggests even 8 years, at some point the industry will reach saturation and prices will rise, along with many companies simply shuttering their web sites. What’s the point? Take advantage of the market right now, and buy a bed. It couldn’t be a better time.

Understanding Mattress Sizes And A Helpful Guide

When choosing the right mattress size, you may be simply replacing an existing bed, or you may be graduating up to a king, or splitting the mattresses for use with an adjustable base.

Often, transitional customers who are a bit older might buy a split twin XL set instead of a king, since future plans may lead to using an adjustable base, though many younger shoppers are buying adjustable bases too, regarding their beds as a sanctuary, or media center.

When it comes to mattresses—one size does not fit all, but we’re here to share all the information you need to make the right decision. Let’s walk through the sizes together–consider this your mattress size guide!

Here's a quick mattress size chart for reference:


Twin | 39x75 inches
Twin XL | 39x80 inches
Full | 54x75 inches
Queen | 60x80 inches
King | 76x80 inches
California King | 72x84 inches

Twin (39 x 75): The twin offers just the right amount of space for solo sleepers of any age. It’s compatible with special frames like daybeds and bunk beds, and won’t crowd even the smallest of rooms. Because of its narrow width, the twin isn’t perfect for arm stretchers or rollers, but stationary sleepers looking for something minimal and cost effective.

Twin XL (39 x 80): The twin XL offers an extra 5” in length, providing more leg room for people who are tall. We recommend the XL for snoozers—young or old—who are 5’8’’ to 6’3’’. Even shorties may want the extra length, especially if they have pets that like sleeping at the foot of the bed. The XL is often used for dorm rooms and split king setups, but it will fit in a variety of spaces. Just keep in mind that finding frames and accessories can be tricky because the XL isn’t as popular as the twin or full.

Split King (2 twin XLs): Two twin XLs walk into a bedroom…and become a split king. Basically, a split king is two twin XLs put together. This setup works well for shared beds with people who have different sleep schedules or comfort preferences. It’s also compatible with adjustable frames (with sides that move independently). These can be broken down into single parts, which simplifies moving and set up, but bear in mind that not all frames and accessories are compatible with split kings.

Full (54 x 75): The full, sometimes called double, works well in many situations. It’s small enough to fit into compact spaces, but offers just enough space for pairs. This size is a practical choice for guest rooms, as well as **co-sleeping, urbanites, parties of one, couples that don’t need a lot of space to move, growing kids, and pet parents who always save a spot for their fur babies. If you like to accessorize your bed, take into account that not every brand or style is available in this size.

Queen (60 x 80): The queen delivers more space without the overwhelming footprint of a king. It accommodates couples, co-sleepers, growing families (with kids and pets), and even lone wolves who want to roam free. Fulls and queens are a smart choice for city dwellers who want a bed that’s big enough to stretch out on, but doesn’t crowd their tiny homes. Queens and kings are among the highest selling sizes so there are plenty of sheets, frames, and accessories available at varying price points.

King (76 x 80): The king works well in big rooms and is a top pick for couples and families with extra space. The size allows sleepers to spread out—a must when sharing a bed with a restless or hot sleeper who tosses and turns, or someone who runs on a different sleep schedule. People who have (or want) human kids or pet kids will need the 76” width—it’s a luxury when the kids start enjoying your bed more than their own, trust us.

California King (72 x 84): **Contrary to popular belief, the Cal king is not bigger than a regular king. It’s the slimmer version of the king that fits more easily into small or awkward spaces (although it may be more costly and time-consuming finding accessories in this size). With the loss of 4” in width, Cal king users gain 4” in length. The width is still accommodating for singles or couples who want a little rolling room, but the extended length is the highlight. Tall people (6’0’’ and up) who need to stretch out and pets who like lying at the foot of the bed will appreciate the longer length.

**King and Cal king mattresses have different dimensions. To avoid order mixups, check the size of your existing frame (or accessories) before making a purchase. Remember: California kings, like the state, are long and narrow.

A mattress is an investment you don’t want to replace or exchange every couple years—we understand. There is no right or wrong answer to “What size mattress is best for you?” Take time to think through your current situation and where the future might lead, and you’ll find your fit! 

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-Courtesy Tuft&Needle, 2018

Mattress Reviews-Understanding Mattress Types So You Know The Tricks

Mattress buying tips that will save you tons of time and money...

Need a new mattress? Experts advise replacing mattresses every seven to 10 years. If you’re not sleeping well, swap yours out in five to 10 years, says Prevention Magazine. We generally say eight years is a good marker these days, since human pieces and parts tend to accumulate on a typical mattress, skin cells for example, hair, and, well, a lot of things. Also, foam beds in generally will often lose their lively nature after 7-8 years. And because the mattress industry has typically become more efficient and competitive, it doesn't cost that much to replace a mattress.  But where to start? Likely, if you're shopping online, it's going to seem overwhelming at first. Best place to start? Narrow down your options by knowing a few general categories that mattresses fall into (tip: people these days are mostly buying hybrid mattresses)

Basically, here are the fundamental types of mattresses out there to consider:

Innerspring. You may have grown up sleeping on an innerspring mattress. It typically is the least expensive mattress type. It also is the most common, having been around the longest. Support in an innerspring mattress comes from wire coils, which also account for the familiar mattress bounce. Salespeople may say that the number of coils matters. It doesn’t. What does matter is the gauge (thickness) of the wire: The lower the number, the heavier the wire. For example, 12-gauge wire is heavier than 14-gauge. Heavier gauge coils make a firmer mattress. Thinner coils produce a springier mattress.

Memory foam. Memory foam isn’t springy. Its heat sensitivity makes it conform to your body, making it a good choice for people who are in pain. It can take time to grow accustomed to this different feel, though. What’s more, foam products differ one from the other. Density is important to a firm base layer, with a cushier and softer top layer to allow your body to nestle and distribute weight properly. If you like a tucked in feel, it's a great option.

Latex and gel. Latex mattresses have a firmness similar to memory foam but springier and without lag time.When you move, the latex kind of moves you along, instantly responding to body movement. Latex is sold as a hypoallergenic product, but only if it's all natural and not synthetic. One interesting characteristic is its ability to make you feel like you are above your bed, and not in it. Latex devotees are fiercely loyal to it, and they say once you go to latex, you don't go back. 

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Gel foams are jelly like, or combinations of memory foam and gel type materials. They are body conforming and a bit jiggly, but can be very supportive and excellent at relieving pressure. Also, some mattresses have a layer of moldable, more flexible gel that’s supposed to make the bed breathe and feel cooler. 

Digital Air Beds. Adjustable-air mattress let you control your mattress’s firmness by adding air or deflating it. These mattresses often contain layers of additional material, too. Excellent when you have a couple who have totally different sleep habits. Sleep Number makes the most sophisticated line of modern day digital air beds with lots of options.

Shopping for a mattress can feel confusing — with all the types, costs, whistles and bells — it’s worth spending some time to shop thoughtfully. Here’s our down and dirty 12 point guide on how to get a great bed at a most excellent price..

1. SHOP IN STORES, AT LEAST TO START-GET A FEEL FOR WHAT'S OUT THERE, THEN SHOP ONLINE

You may eventually buy a mattress online. But because mattress preferences are so personal, no amount of online research can substitute for the experience of trying out mattresses in a store.

After zeroing in on what you want, do some comparison shopping online.

2. FIND THE MATTRESS YOU WANT BEFORE IT’S ON SALE

Mattress shopping during a sale can be frustrating and difficult if you haven’t done your research first. Stores are crowded. Salespeople are busy and distracted. Shopping online can be frustrating. Take your time finding the mattress you like and then pounce on a sale price. Use the links we have on our site, throughout the pages. They will typically take you to a deal on the mattress we're recommending.

3. TRY BEDDING SPECIALTY STORES

Often, salespeople in stores specializing in bedding may be most attentive, Consumer Reports found, in a study by their team. CR researchers found shopping in department stores less satisfying. Online shopping will be a bit more detached, of course, since you can't wheel and deal with the sales team or sample the product before you buy...but..it is highly competitive in the web mattress marketplace, so most of the time, you're going to get a killer deal. You're also likely to get a bulletproof return policy as well.

4. BE SKEPTICAL OF PILLOW-TOPS

Mattresses with pillow-top layers can give you a false comfort reading because they can mash down quickly after purchase, Good Housekeeping says. Another downside: Pillow-tops are thicker, requiring the purchase of new “high-profile” or “deep-pocket” sheets.

5. BRING YOUR PARTNER

Don’t delegate your mattress shopping to someone else. If two of you will be sharing the mattress, both of you should test the options in stores.

6. DON’T BUY SALES HYPE

Consumer Reports cautions against being sucked into paying lots for fancy features, saying that years of testing have shown that all but the cheapest are sturdy. Keep it simple, typically the basic model, or original model that the company first designed is the one to go with, especially if you are shopping online. The upgraded model with the mint green layer may not be worth the higher price.

7. ASK ABOUT PRODUCTS NOT ON THE SALES FLOOR

Brick and mortar stores tend to use their display space for higher-end products. If you find something you like, ask if you can see a lower-end model. Believe it or not, online stores will often have boxed deals also, say for mattresses that were sent back, without ever being opened or touch. Ask in an online chat.

8. PAY ATTENTION TO THE WARRANTY

Most manufacturers’ defects are evident within the first year, according to Good Housekeeping. After that much time passes, defects are difficult to prove anyway. So, one hundred year warranties are kind of "meh", but a good 10-20 year deal on the warranty is decent. 

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The advantage of shopping online for a mattress these days is that the bedding business has become so competitive and so crowded that it gives the buyer some definite edges. Every company has there own unique product, their own recipe if you will, but what they don't necessarily have is the most important part of the equation. And, it bulletproofs you from getting stuck with a mattress that sucks. The trial period is by far the best safety net when buying online. Used to be, when you bought a mattress at a brick and mortar store, once you left, you owned it. Not anymore. A solid warranty is now becoming pretty commonplace in most online e-tailers programs. We recommend a warranty of at least 10 years, covering any defect or damage to the bed. Actually, a 20 year warranty is pretty typical, with a 10 year free replacement component, and the backside 10 years being prorated, with a little less coverage on the bed from year 11-20. We'd say 20 year minimum, although it isn't uncommon these days to see lifetime warranties on a lot of beds out there.

Also, Look for companies that are BBB A+ rated companies, and display the live link logo. If you can’t find these on a company’s web site, you shouldn’t really be shopping there, in our opinion. Beware of strangely unheard certifications on web sites too, like “TrustDoctor” or “Certified by The American Foam Institute”, often creative graphic design by the owner of the web site, and not a genuine third party organization. Honestly, BBB and Consumer Reports are the only two organizations that are truly vetted and believable. Good luck!

9. LOOK FOR A LIBERAL TRIAL PERIOD AND RETURN POLICY

Buy from a store that offers “comfort returns,” meaning that you can return the mattress if you’re unhappy for any reason, though you may need to pay a fee. Before buying, understand exactly how the return policy works. Most sites are offering 90-120 day trial periods and free return shipping if you simply don't like it, don't want to talk about it, just want your money back. And competition between online stores for the best trial period is fierce. We say look for at least a 90 day trial. Most new owners are going to know within a couple of nights, but we recommend giving your body at least 3-4 weeks to adapt to a new sleep surface. 

10. BUY A NEW PILLOW, TOO

With a new mattress, “the gap between your head and shoulders will change with the change in mattress firmness,  Definitely pair your mattress purchase with a new pillow or three...look for companies that throw in pillows for free. We've found that people who ask for free pillows with their new mattress often get them.

11. HAGGLE AND BARGAIN

Mattress retailers typically mark up prices four to 12 times over the cost of producing the mattress, BuzzFeed says. With margins like these, there’s room for you to bargain, and you should — even during a sale. If you can’t get a lower price, ask for nonmonetary perks, like new pillows or bedding thrown in. This would apply to retail brick and mortar stores. Online, again, you're going to get a great deaL due to the heat of the compeition.

12. SKIMP ON THE BOX SPRINGS-MOST OF THE TIME THEY'RE A RIPOFF

Focus your money on a good mattress and don’t feel obliged to buy an expensive box spring. Ask if the less-expensive box springs can be substituted for the one shown with the mattress you like. Get a simple platform, with either 3" wide slates spaced no more than 3" apart, or some kind of solid "hardtop" foundation.

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The Difference Between Natural Latex And Synthetic Blends Of Latex?

Is the latex 100% natural or is it a blend ?

100% Pure Latex - No clay fillers, no chemical dyes, no pesticides, no bleach, and no carcinogenic adhesives.

Several retailers on the web and otherwise make the claim that their latex mattresses are produced with 100% latex; however, even man-made synthetic latex can be considered "100% latex". Just as you probably know there is a lot of leeway given in the labeling of food ingredients, the same holds true in the advertising of latex mattresses. There is a difference between blended "100% latex" and pure 100% natural latex however. 100% natural latex is known to be inherently more elastic and resilient, expanding and better conforming to the various levels of weight and pressure it is exposed to.

While blended latex (a combination of natural and synthetic latex) is what is mostly used in mattresses, the feel is a less-lively one that doesn't have the same "kickback" or resilience, but instead provides less response to pressure and weight aside from passively absorbing it. Blended latex is also widely perceived to be less durable and more prone to break down over time. In most cases blended latex contains about 30-40% natural latex, with the remaining 60-70% being synthetic latex and/or fillers. You may be content with a blended latex mattress, but when shopping, be sure you're comparing apples to apples.

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Mattress Industry Trends

The mattress industry has been going through a significant change in the last few years. In part, this change has been driven by the changing demographics of the mattress customer. As baby boomers have been getting older, they are looking at ways to keep themselves feeling younger and more energetic. They are far more willing to try new products than their parents before them, especially with more personal items like mattresses.

This trend has been driving other industries as well, notably the weight loss and plastic surgery industries. But over the last few years there has been a significant growth in the sleep industry, and the mattress industry as a whole has shifted significantly to try to give a more comfortable and luxurious sleep experience.

What has this meant to you, the consumer? Over the past few years, there has been an internet explosion as people have become more comfortable with ordering larger ticket items on the internet.

With the ability to vacuum package and ship a mattress on a FedEx or UPS truck, an entire industry has stormed the web. There are new companies selling pure latex mattresses such as Habitat Furnishings, Zenhaven, Plushbeds, and others. There are also companies like Casper, OnPurple, Loom &Leaf, FCO Homegoods, and others, offering hybrid mattresses made using a variety of innovative materials.

Some of these companies have not been around very long, so I always advise buyers to consider purchasing a mattress from companies that have been around for 10 years of more to make sure they stand the test of time, and can service your warranty and return issue down the line.

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Some of the big players, like Tempur-Pedic, Select Comfort, Simmons, Sealy, and Serta, continue to innovate, though their products tend to be far more expensive than beds made of equal quality by much smaller, boutique style manufacturers. When you see the advertising that is always chasing us around the internet for these products, you need to be aware that the consumer pays for the cost of these ads.

A lot of the smaller companies riding the coattails of these corporate behemoths are merely catching the breadcrumbs left by the big players, and that in and of itself is a huge marketplace.

The trend now is the tightening of prices for a decent mattress. The healthy competition in the industry has led to a much more comfortable price point for many of these mattresses. It is easy to spend $700-800 on a queen size mattress and get something that is really decent that will last.

High end bedding is still available for consumption, though. Companies like Hastens, and even American lines, like the Simmons Black series, have price tags of $5,000 and up. Select Comfort sells their higher end digital air bed models for $5,000 and more.

Innovative And Healing Ingredients Used In Mattress Design

There are so many great new and fresh technologies being developed in the mattress industry, largely driven by consumer interest in sleep hygiene and health, that it’s hard to keep up with the exploding category of hybrid mattresses. Hybrid mattresses are those made using several different kinds of components, each offering unique benefits to the user, sometimes with quite exotic ingredients.

One such exotic ingredient is copper, which is known as a healing substance both in dietary uses, and when in contact with the body, such as copper healing bracelets and other objects.

Several innovative mattress companies are experimenting with infusing copper into such materials as natural latex, offering immediate body contact or closeness to the element itself.

Copper reduces inflammation caused by arthritis, relieves pain, increases energy levels, and helps with a host of other medical issues.

Aluminum is also being infused into specialized memory foam layers to deflect heat, making mattresses far more comfortable for hot sleepers.

The fabrics used in the outer covering of mattresses are also becoming very innovative as well. Natural fabrics such as bamboo fiber, wool, and others offer a chemical free alternative to the vastly growing eco-friendly and environmentally conscious marketplace. Also, advanced heat reducing fabrics such as Tencil, and other reflective materials are rapidly gaining popularity as well.

Finally, there has been a fair amount of growth lately in the adjustable bedding area. This used to primarily be an institutional market product for the elderly or bed bound. Now manufacturers see a huge area of growth with younger markets, as well as the aging yet physically active baby boomer market.

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It seems many manufacturers are reinventing the adjustable bed category, with prices starting in the $600-700 range for a queen size adjustable bed, with many models offering sleek features like LED under lighting, massage, sophisticated fabrics, and other options.

These models are sleeker, more family oriented, with high tech connectivity to smart phones, and ergonomic remote controls, and look like anything but the old school “hospital bed” that moved up and down.

Also, the American culture has been shifting to a more health conscious ethos, with emphasis placed on getting proper restorative sleep, putting in your eight hours, and having a quality mattress. Eagerness to explore new kinds of mattresses is also on an uptick, with the industry strongly suggesting that the average consumer replace their mattress every eight years or so.

Gone are the days when couples would buy a mattress and keep them for the duration of their marriage, or even their lives, thanks to an aggressive, and competitive marketplace with many new and innovative ideas about sleep and bedding in general.

The Difference Between Dunlop And Talalay Latex Enhanced

 

Talalay Frothing Process - Produces a much Higher Quality Latex foam as the Weaker Air Bubbles are Removed.

Which is better, talalay latex or dunlop latex? The relevant question is not as much about which is better as it is about where and how it's being used in the mattress. When latex is derived from the hevea brasiliensis tree, it has the consistence of maple syrup. There are 2 primary processes used to transform it to the latex foam used in mattresses; the talalay process and the dunlop process.

To spare you the technical details, the dunlop process produces a latex foam that is more dense, while the talalay process produces a latex foam that is lighter and has more air in it. If we use cake as an analogy, dunlop would be like pound cake and talalay would be like angel food cake. If you were to weigh each as latex cores, the dunlop would be heaver because it has more latex in it.

As a top comfort layer of a mattress, talalay is typically preferred because it is less dense which provides better pressure relief. As a mattress core however, dunlop is preferred because it's dense cell structure will hold the shape of the mattress better over time & will be less prone to sagging or indentations.

Nine out of every ten "natural latex mattresses" advertised are made solely of 100% dunlop latex, which is fine if you're a back sleeper and prefer a firmer feel; however, studies show a top layer of talalay latex does a better job of relieving trigger points in your hips and shoulders, especially if you're a side sleeper. The optimal latex mattress design would be a 100% natural dunlop core, which is denser to prevent sagging, with a 100% natural talalay top layer for better pressure relief.

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Return Policies- Are they All The Same?

 Not all Return Policies are the Same

Questions You Should Be Asking

If you aren't satisfied with the mattress, do you have to ship it back yourself or will they pick it up? Is there a cap on your return costs, and can you get it in writing?

Hopefully you'll choose the right latex mattress the first time around, and will sleep happily ever after. But what if you don't? What are your return options? What are your return costs? Will the company tell you up front? How many days do you have to try the mattress (60 days is acceptable, 90 would be better)?

Does the company have a comfort exchange policy or is your only solution to send the mattress back? Will the company come and pick up the mattress or are you responsible for shipping it back to the company? Many companies tell you they will "take the mattress back" within a certain time period, but fail to mention that it's up to you to get it there. It typically costs $300-$475 to ship a used mattress one-way across the country.

Are you responsible for just the return shipping or the shipping costs both ways? Is there a cap on what those costs are? What does "like new condition" really mean, and is it possible to be in "like new condition" after sleeping on it for 30 nights?

Read the fine print, as what seems too good to be true, usually is. There's an old adage, "What the bold print giveth, the fine print taketh away". While you should never expect a complete refund if you damaged a mattress you're returning, look for fine print that leaves the amount of your refund to the discretion of the company, as there have been many occasions where customers are charged hundreds of dollars because of ordinary use being claimed as mattress damage. Expect to pay something for returning a mattress. Anything that promises otherwise might be too good to be true.

Read the fine print of the return policy. If the return policy is vague or can be interpreted more than one way, inquire and get it in writing before making your purchase.

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A Quick Guide To Mattress Options For Restless And Hot Sleepers

Have you ever dreamt that you are being tossed around the ship in a violent storm, only to wake and realise that it was just your partner rolling over, again? If you skip off to bed before your partner, do you secretly wince moments before they join you, knowing that your semi-somnolence is about to end abruptly as they seemingly catapult themselves into what was once a still and peaceful space? Do you suffer pangs of guilt because (you love your partner, BUT...) you wish they slept on their own bed?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from partner related sleep disturbances. The good news is there are some wonderful mattresses available today that specifically address these issues, enabling you to enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep once again.

Let’s look at some of the issues pertaining to sleeping partner disturbances and find a way of choosing the best mattress to avoid this, as well as finding potentially a more comfortable night’s sleep for your partner, too.

Pocket Spring Mattresses
Mattresses with multi-zone pocket springs or unlinked pocket springs are a fantastic choice to eliminate partner disturbances for two main reasons:

  • they offer individual support, providing  greater comfort, so there is less tossing and turning
  • they eliminate movement throughout the entire bed as the springs aren’t linked 

Pocket Spring Mattress Support

Pocketed coil beds improve the level of contouring around the body, offering adequate amount of support where your body needs this, eliminating pain or pressure.

A lack of support may cause discomfort in any part of your body. For example, pain in your hips, shoulders, lower back or neck can cause you to involuntarily move throughout the night to alleviate the pain or stiffness. Then once you move the situation is repeated all over again as there just isn’t adequate support. To further inflame the situation, all this discomfort and unrest upsets the other sleeping partner, and so the unhappy cycle continues. 

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Eliminating movement throughout the bed
Unlike our recommended Pocket Spring Mattresses, if you have a mattress with a coil spring system that is linked, any movement on the bed is relayed to the adjoining springs, creating movement right across the mattress, giving unpleasant movement that disturbs your partner’s sleep.

Latex mattresses
Another popular option to eliminate partner sleep disturbances is latex. Many people describe latex mattresses as being “supremely comfortable”. They are dense and yet comforting to lie on. Latex is a natural product; is relatively affordable; gives that wonderful ‘sinking into a heavenly cushion’ feel, yet is easy to move around in, making a latex rubber mattress an extremely popular choice. Latex also has the advantage of being hypo-allogenic, antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites. There are many different types of latex though: some are 100% latex, while others are a mixture. It pays to find out what type of latex is in your mattress, as the composition will have an effect on the type of support it offers.

Understanding mattress components
Many people choose a mattress compiled of several layers. The main components are the support and comfort components. For example, to minimise partner disturbance, you may choose a mattress that has a pocket spring base and then choose a mattress with a comfort component that gives the desired amount of comfort and support that you need.

Once again latex is a popular option as a comfort component. Alternatively you might choose memory foam. Memory foam is renowned for that delightful ‘sleeping on a cloud’ feeling where you are literally enveloped by surrounding foam. It moulds around your body and is very useful for those suffering pressure point pain or hip and shoulder pain. Other components that create comfort are made of substances such as gel, Dacron or wool to provide either a soft, plush feel or a firmer feel. 

Hot sleepers
Temperature is certainly an issue to consider when it comes to partner disturbance. If your partner throws off a lot of heat when they sleep, a bed that holds the heat may not be the best option. Theoretically speaking, latex is reputed to get hot, however, many people report otherwise. Once again, it’s important to spend time on the mattress yourself, along with your partner, and take notice of how much of the heating effect is created.

Gel toppers are extremely popular for “hot sleepers” because they have a cool surface which reduces heat build-up, allowing a cooler and more comfortable sleep. If you sleep in a hot climate, this is another reason to investigate gel toppers for your new bed.

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Specialty Or Hybrid Mattresses - The Fastest Growing Segment Of The Mattress Industry

 

Specialty bedding refers to anything outside of the standard innerspring mattress. While this is a fairly new term, specialty bedding has been around a long time -- starting with latex mattresses back in the 40's and 50's (Sears made a latex mattress back then that people still talk about), and continuing through the waterbed craze of the 60's and 70's (although these old waterbeds are very different than the technologically superior waterbeds available today).

But while specialty bedding has been out there a long time, it hasn't been till the past 10 - 15 years that it has become a substantial part of the bedding market. It has become so significant, in fact, that specialty bedding now is the fastest growing segment of the mattress industry.

And the acknowledged leader in the specialty bedding industry is Tempur-Pedic®. Tempur-Pedic® has grown into the fourth largest mattress manufacturer in the U.S., and its success has spawned a host of competitors. Memory foam, an esoteric product 15 years ago, is now available in every leading brand and is becoming a huge import from China as well. What you need to know, though, is that memory foam can vary tremendously in quality and comfort.

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While memory foam is the largest segment of the specialty bedding market, the fastest growing trend is in latex. Latex has been gaining a great deal of market share in Europe for some time, but only lately has it become a growing trend in the U.S. Recently Sealy has made a huge investment in latex, setting up their own manufacturing facilities. It remains to be seen, however, if Sealy or any other manufacturer will pour money into advertising latex in the way Tempur-Pedic® has done (over $100 million dollars in advertising a couple of years back).

The other segment of the specialty mattress industry that has grown rapidly over the last few years has been the air bed industry. Largely driven by Select Comfort, air beds are currently the 2nd largest segment of specialty bedding. But with Select Comfort facing serious financial difficulties (their stock has gone down 80% or so over the last few years), air beds popularity may have peaked. It remains to be seen whether Select Comfort can right the ship and continue to find the money to fund its advertising that drives its sales.

Air beds are complex compared to other mattresses, with moving parts (pumps), bladders and all sorts of other comfort layers. Technologically they are the most confusing, and quality can vary tremendously. So it is important to know what to look for when buying an air bed. If you are interested in an air bed because you like the flexibility they offer (you can change the firmness of your sleep surface at the flick of a switch).

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Save On A Mattress By Passing On The Upgraded Mattress Ticking

 

The "ticking" of a mattress is its outside covering. On a traditional mattress, this ticking is sewn. On many of the newer specialty mattresses (memory foam beds, air beds, latex mattresses) the ticking is a zippered cover.

In either case, one of the latest trends is to add a fancy ticking in order to position a mattress as a higher end model. The range of these upgraded tickings is huge. From silk and cashmere to Cool Max and other temperature regulating textiles, aloe or vegetable infused materials, and even tickings embedded with small magnets or elemental copper.

And all these claim to have some sort of benefit for the sleeper: silk and cashmere to help you sleep cooler and add comfort, aloe for its health benefits (although I have to admit I'm fuzzy on what these are), coolmax to help you sleep cooler (used a lot on memory foam beds), and the magnets supposedly to create a more "natural" magnetic field that is healing for sleep purposes.

Are these claims valid? Boy, I have to say I'm skeptical about most, if not all, these claims. First and foremost, most people use a mattress protector or mattress pad over their mattress to protect it. So people almost never sleep with their sheets right on top of the ticking anyway. I'm pretty skeptical that you continue to get the benefit of the aloe, cashmere, silk or coolmax through a 1/4 thick mattress pad. As for the magnets, I am just generally skeptical on the health claims here, although I'm not saying it might not offer a benefit (for some general information on this, Google "magnetic mattress therapy"). But how comfortable is it to sleep on hard pieces of magnets sprinkled throughout your bed?

Bottom line -- if you will be using a mattress pad or mattress protector over your mattress, you can save a lot of money by buying the same mattress (with all the same innards) and foregoing the fancy cover. I can't say you will always have this option, but in many cases there will be very comparable mattresses which differ only in the cover (and their price).

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