On Monday, I mentioned that Kris and I are ready to replace our 15-year-old mattress. I don’t sleep well on it, though I sleep fine on other mattresses. I only mentioned this to illustrate a point, but I was surprised at how many readers commented on my situation.

Jason’s comment was typical:

I’ve found that sleep is the absolute root of everything. With decent sleep, I’m a better man, father, athlete, spouse, employee and all around person. With poor sleep, I’m just getting by at best, an irritable mess at worst.

I’d replace that mattress yesterday, as others have already said. Think of the other things you “just do” when they wear out and become unsafe or function poorly — car tires, toothbrushes, sponges, knives, ladders, etc. The mattress very easily fits into the same category.

Unfortunately, “an irritable mess” pretty much describes me lately, and I’m sure that a lot of this stems from poor sleep. I don’t need more convincing. I’m ready to purchase a new mattress. But how do I go about it without getting ripped off? For some reason, I think of mattress shopping in the same way I think about shopping for a used car.

In the same discussion, EBYT wrote that she sold mattresses while attending university. She offered the following tips for mattress shopping:

  • Mattresses are hugely marked up (at least here in Canada). I bought one for staff price (brand new, not a display model) that cost 50% less than what we were selling it for. They still made money off of me. Either wait till they go on sale, or make sure you ask for a good deal. Good mattress/box sets start around $1,500 “regular” price.
  • Make sure you buy a mattress pad so you get full warranty. The salespeople will try to sell you on the manufacturer’s 10-year warranty, but they don’t always tell you the warranty is void if you stain it.
  • To go along with the warranty thing, always buy the matching mattress/boxspring set. Mismatching usually voids the warranty. The boxspring is usually only about 10-15% of the mattress set’s price so don’t try to cut costs there, or by using your old “perfectly good” boxspring.
  • Don’t be afraid to test the beds on the showroom floor — that’s what they’re there for.

Another reader suggested buying a mattress from a warehouse club. Kris and I made a trip to Costco the other day to look at their mattresses. As always, the prices are great but the selection is poor. Plus, there’s no way to “sleep-test” the mattresses (which are just in a big stack in the middle of the store). Would it be bad form to sleep test at a mattress store and then buy from Costco? Could I even find the same models?

Finally, here are some articles about mattress shopping from other sites:

  • Birds and Bills: Braving mattress sales, which says: “After a few glances at the mattress sales tags, which featured minimal text and explanation, I ended up giving up entirely on trying to “shop” by feature — latex? foam? coils? I had no idea which I wanted — and just road-tested a few. And … they mostly felt alike.”
  • MSNBC: Don’t lose sleep buying the perfect mattress, which says: “Offer the retailer a couple of hundred dollars less than the one on the price tag. Be prepared to negotiate from there. If the mattress feels good to you, then that is the right mattress for you.”
  • Slate: Going to the mattresses, which says: “If you can’t tell the difference between a $200 and a $900 mattress (I couldn’t, but maybe you can), get the cheaper one. They’re nearly the same, anyway. Anything over $1,500 and you’re just paying for prestige.”
  • USA Today: How not to lose sleep over buying a mattress, which says: “The ‘best’ mattress comes down to personal preference — consumers are urged to test mattresses before buying. It also pays to know what’s inside each type — and why.”

In any event, it seems that Kris and I will soon be sleeping on a new mattress. I have my fingers crossed that this will give me better rest and, in turn, make me a less irritable mess!

Photo by The Truth About.