Mattress recommendations for a broke/bony couple?

My boyfriend and I are recent college graduates who (get this) have been sharing a twin-sized mattress for the past couple of months. Needless to say, it is time for an upgrade. We want to get a Queen-sized mattress that fits our budget and our needs:

  • Trying to stay under $1500 for both the box spring and the mattress (ideally as low as possible! We really can’t afford to spend that much, and are only budgeting this much toward a mattress because we have both been having terrible nights, cramped together on our tiny bed)
  • Us: 115 and 160 pounds, respectively. Both someone bony/with our own bone/joint problems. I’m a side sleeper, he’s a back sleeper. I would really like a bed that I can sleep on my side on, and not have my protruding hip bones give me any sort of pain (so a super hard mattress is out of the picture). However, we would also like something that isn’t too soft to the point of not providing any support. We looked into tempurpedic, but felt that it was too foamy/awkward to move around on.
  • I am allergic to latex, and am not sure about the option of latex mattresses. I have been told that it should be ok, sleeping on a latex mattress, since there will be layers of support/sheets between myself and the offending latex powder. However, since all of those claims came from latex mattress salesman, I am unsure about their validity. Do any of you have any experience with the allergy/latex mattresses?
  • We are located in CA
  • We recently bought a Simmons Beautyrest, Palm Springs - piilow top firm from Macys (box spring included) for about $900. We paid about $100 extra for some mattress insurance that includes cleaning/potential replacement over the next 10 years. We were told that it was “better than the others” because Macy’s installs titanium bars into all their mattresses for added support (is there any truth to that claim?). We’re having a little bit of buyer’s remorse, because we aren’t sure if it’s really a good mattress, and if we overpaid. We can still cancel the order for the next couple of weeks, because it still hasn’t shipped.

Hi twinkletoes,

Wow … even a full size gives each person less room than a crib mattress. That’s what I call making do :slight_smile:

There are two main types of latex allergy which mostly involve an allergy to certain surface proteins on the latex. The most common is a contact allergy to the surface proteins which unlike other types of rubber products like gloves and condoms have been removed in the type of latex foam that is used in a mattress so it would be very rare indeed for someone to be allergic to latex foam.

There is more about latex allergies in post #2 here but if you have a type IV allergy you would likely be fine (and you could ask for a sample of the latex and rub it against your skin to make sure).

I would avoid the major brands and mass market outlets because they just don’t have the quality or value of most smaller independent or local manufacturers that are either sold factory direct or through better sleep shops. A mattress is only as good as the materials and construction that is in it and the major brands just won’t give you the quality specs that you need to make meaningful comparisons with other mattresses or really know the quality of the mattress. Almost all of them use a lot of lower quality polyfoam that will soften much too soon and loss of comfort and support caused by the softening of the foam in a mattress in not covered by any warranty … even though it is the main reason people need to replace a mattress. Mattress warranties protect the manufacturer more than they do the consumer and are a marketing tool more than anything to convince unwary consumers that longer warranties are better quality and worth a higher price.

This article will help you avoid most of the worst choices most people make when they are mattress shopping and help you avoid spending time on researching claims that won’t make any real difference anyway. The foam above the coils is the weak link of almost all mattresses and most of the innersprings in the majority of reasonable quality mattresses will last much longer than the foam that’s in them. A bit of titanium is not going to make a big difference in the overall durability of the mattress when the low density/quality polyfoam above the innersprings soften and wear out long before the springs.

The most effective way to find the best mattress for you is to first research the better manufacturers and retailers in your area and then when you have found these, only then to start researching mattresses with the help of “mattress people” who have the knowledge, quality, service, and value to help you make your best choices. Almost anything you buy from a better outlet will be better quality and value than anything you buy from a chain store or a major brand. There is a step by step process in post #10 here which can dramatically increase your chances of ending up with a great quality and value mattress that fits your needs and preferences.

California has some of the best choices available of any state in the country. If you let me know the city or zip I’d be happy to let you know about some of the better choices or possibilities I’m aware of that are within a reasonable distance.

Hope this helps


Hi Pheonix! Thank you so much for your prompt and informative response! I will keep an open-mind concerning the latex mattresses now.

We live in Oakland (94607) though we would be happy to travel to any of the nearby cities as well in our quest for the perfect mattress. We would love to hear some of our recommendations for mattresses/outlets in our area.

You mentioned that we should talk to “mattress people” to take advantage of their expertise. We went to mattress discounters, Macy’s, etc, and talked to the people who we perceived to be the mattress experts there. However, they all just seemed like they were interested in making a sale and would say anything to reach those ends. Who are these “mattress people” that we should be talking to, and how can we get in touch with them?

Hi twinkletoes,

“Mattress people” is a word I use for people who are knowledgeable about mattresses, mattress materials, and mattress construction and are focused on service and helping to educate their customers about what the differences between the many different mattresses really are and helping them make better choices that fit their needs and preferences in the showroom but also in their bedroom months or years down the road. This article will give you a sense of what to look for in the better outlets.

Outlets like Macys and Mattress Discounters sell mostly major brands and for the most part they won’t be able to tell you the quality of the materials in their mattresses. In most cases they won’t even understand the importance of knowing and when you ask about things like foam density they will just roll their eyes. They use words like “good quality” that are meaningless because there is no way to know the quality of a mattress without knowing the quality of the layers that are in it and they won’t be able to tell you this. They are selling the label on the mattress and the stories that are attached to it rather than the quality of materials in the mattress. The better the story … the more expensive the mattress.

Smaller independent or more local manufacturers that sell factory direct or through local sleep shops will tend to put their money into the quality of the materials in the mattress and don’t need a story or advertising to sell their mattresses. They are usually a source of better quality and value in every price range and with every type of material. The choice of latex, memory foam, traditional innerspring/polyfoam, or any other type of mattress is a personal preference but no matter which direction you go … if you first find the better outlets … you will end up with a better mattress.

Some of the better choices or possibilities in the San Francisco/Oakland area are in post #2 here.

You have some very good choices available.