Senior Citizen Shopping for New Bed

I’m once again bed shopping, seems this happens every 2-5 years. At this age, at this income, my bed shopping has got to end but I need to be able to sleep in some comfort. Latest bed was bought from the Orginal Mattress Factory, built like a brick wall, takes 2 men to flip it over, however exactly 2 years after purchasing, I now have a nice gully in the middle. No matter where I go to sleep at night I end up in the sink hole. I called Org Mat Factory, they came out, held that tape measure so taunt it barely registered any indentation. $1200 down the drain in 2 years. I’ve been through this before, so I know how they all play the game. I’ve had mattresses from Stearns & Foster, Sealy, Sleep Number - If I can even make it to the 5 year mark it’s a miracle. Spending more money definitely doesn’t seem to be the answer.
All I want is a reasonably comfortable mattress that “might” last 5 years, if I last 5 more years, well it would be a good investment. I’m giving up on the inner spring deals, now thinking of going to a foam one. I live in St Paul MN, can anyone recommend a decent mattress for a reasonal price in this area. On a seniors income, I am limited to what I can spend at this point. I do belong to Costco.
I’m 5’5", 225, not exactly a light weight but I have a lot of arthritis, back issues, knee/hip problems, so comfort is my pursuit. Once I get a new mattress I’m very diligent about turning it every 2 months or in the case of the Org Mattress Factory bed, flipping it every 3 momonths.
I’ve read through a lot of the posts on this site, some helpful information but some I just don’t understand. Can anyone make it real plain and simple for me, about how much to spend for a decent Queen Bed, what brands I might consider. Any help would be appreciated.
I think my box spring should still be in good shape if it’s only 2 years old, or is it wise to buy a whole “set” when I buy again?

Hi Diddlydo,

I think that the steps and linked information in post #1 here will help.

As you will see … you are probably falling into a similar trap to most other consumers and looking at brands rather than the materials that your mattress is made of. A mattress is only as good or as durable as the materials that are inside it and this is perhaps the biggest “secret” to successful mattress shopping. This is especially important for the upper layers of the mattress (called the comfort layers) because these are the ones that will soften and degrade faster than the lower layers or components because they take most of the stress. The problem with “hills and valleys” is usually not the innerspring (which is a deeper support component) but the upper layers made of polyfoam.

This is particularly important with your heavier weight because if these comfort layers are too thick and/or lower quality … when they soften they will leave you sleeping in a gully. This will happen faster for you than other people who are lighter. The problem is that the gully is because of softened foam when you are lying on the mattress and when you are not on the mattress then it still has enough resilience to come back close enough to level that the warranty is worthless (warranties have exclusions that mostly protect the manufacturer from warranty claims) . This loss of comfort and support that comes from softened foam is not warranty covered because all manufacturers have exclusions for depth of unweighted impressions (although some are more than others).

This would be the same issue with any mattress and any brand that used the same materials. The innerspring is not generally the issue and if you were to take your mattress apart you would likely find that it was still fine but that the foam on top of the innerspring had softened.

The solution to this is to buy a mattress that uses higher quality materials in these layers. This means either higher density polyfoam, latex (the most durable type of foam) or high density memory foam. Firmer comfort layers, thinner layers, and a two sided construction (if you flip it) will also extend the life of your mattress. I suspect that the issue with your current mattress is that even though the materials in the comfort layers used by Original Mattress are higher quality than most larger brands and they are two sided … they ars still not a high enough quality for your weight and this is probably made worse because the layers may be too thick (as in a pillowtop). Posts #326 and 329 in this thread are very similar to your situation and would also be well worth reading.

So the first “secret” to durability is to make sure the materials in your mattress (especially the comfort layers) are more durable.

The second “secret” is to buy a mattress that only uses comfort layers that are just thick and soft enough to provide good pressure relief in all your sleeping positions and no more. Comfort layers that are a little firmer/thinner are better than a little softer/thicker because all foam materials will soften over time … it’s just that the better quality types of foam will soften much more slowly.

The third “secret” to durability is to either buy a two sided mattress (which will last longer than the same type of mattress that is only one sided if you flip it) or a mattress where the top layers which are the weak link can be replaced if they soften or wear out faster than the rest of the mattress (this way you don’t have to replace the whole mattress).

The final “secret” to durability is to connect with a better local manufacturer or sleep shop that understands all of this and won’t just sell you whatever they can for the sake of a sale. When you connect with “experts” they will already know what you would otherwise need to learn.

Some of the better options and possibilities in the St Paul area are listed in post #2 here.

Most importantly … no matter who you buy from … make sure that you know the details about every layer of your mattress and preferably work with someone who can tell you the differences between different qualities of material (or check here if you are in doubt and they don’t seem to know).

Your box spring will probably still be fine as long as your new mattress is designed to be used with a flexible box spring rather than a rigid non flexing foundation (most all foam mattresses …but not all … are designed for a rigid foundation).

Hope this helps


your response was very helpful. I never gave my weight a thought in the mattress issue. I just assumed there are a lot of big tall people out there, I’m not so tall but weigh about as much as someone who’s 6’, so did not assume weight could be the culprit, that mattresses were made to handle weight issues. Hmm, kind of missed the boat on that one. Now that I’m enlightened, I wonder if I should invest in another bed, not so sure I wouldn’t have this same issue in another couple of years. I’m always trying to get a grip on the weight but as one ages, metabolism seems to be in reverse, lack of sleep, I’m tired a lot - lose a few pounds but takes so long I usually lose interest in a few months. I think unless I went to fasting or by-pass surgery (which is not a good option at my age of 65), it’s going to take a year or two to trim down to a more normal weight.
Some thoughts that entered my mind after reading your post several times, if I kept my current bed but invested in a good foam topper, I would still have the gully, but maybe the bed wouldn’t feel so hard, less pressure on my joints, I wonder if I could get by for awhile going that route for another year or two?
Sleep # beds, I had the old one that had the mold issue, it was recalled, and I just let it go and went back to the basic old inner spring which leads me to where I’m at, still trying to find a mattress that will give me some good sleep for more than a few years. What do you think of the new Sleep # beds, looks like they’ve really improved them, foot/head action, layers of foam, and of course greatly increased the cost. However when one is desperate for a fix - any thoughts? A friend told me to get rid of my current mattress, go to Target or Walmart and buy one of those extra high inflatable air mattresses and do that for a year or two.
Another wild thought, buy the cheapest inner spring set out there, right now you can pick them up for $300 - $500, I know you get what you pay for, but it would buy me a couple of years I’m hoping, hope the weight goes before the bed goes.

What ever you might advise, I must say I’m really impressed with this site. I did not know there was so much trouble with mattresses. I hear the usual complaints now and then, but obviously it’s a much bigger problem than I realized. Kind of nice to know I’m not the only one who’s been squandering their money on what seems to be mostly a throw away product.

Thank you for all your suggestions. I printed them off and will review again. Looking forward to any other words of wisdom of the fastest solution to getting a decent nights sleep soon. (suppose I could always rent a good hotel room once a month and catch up on my Zzzzz’s, hotel mattresses seem in general to be pretty good at inducing a good nights sleep or have I been just lucky?).

Hi Diddlydo,

Weight (along with many other factors) has a direct bearing on how long any material will last before it softens or degrades or becomes unsuitable for your needs and preferences but this can be offset by choosing higher quality materials (in either latex, polyfoam, or memory foam) especially in the upper layers of the mattress along with choosing a firmer support core which will usually be necessary to prevent the heavier areas of the body (hips/pelvis) from sinking in too far and leading to support and alignment issues. If you buy a mattress with only “just enough” softness and thickness in the comfort layers to provide you with good pressure relief and perhaps a little firmer than you would prefer … then it will likely last you longer than a mattress that had a comfort layer that was already on the thick and soft side when you first bought it and will soon cross the line of being too soft when the materials soften further. Of course higher quality materials which keep their original properties for much longer are more costly but they have better value … particularly if the mattress is made by a better value manufacturer. The durability of a mattress depends on the individual because a mattress that may need to be replaced if it no longer provides you with comfort and support may continue to be both comfortable and supportive for someone else with different needs and preferences for much longer.

Body type along with sleeping position will also have a direct bearing on which mattress will match your needs and preferences or what I call PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences). Different mattresses can be more or less suitable for different weights, body types, and sleeping positions. The “best” mattress for one person in terms of quality and design can be a disaster for another.

A topper is generally not a good idea on a mattress that has softened because it will just follow the dips and could lead to even worse issues of alignment because of too much soft foam on top of a support layer. A topper is much more suitable for softening up a mattress that is still in good condition but is too firm. It may provide some partial or temporary relief but in general you would be throwing good money after bad. The only way to really “fix” a mattress that has softened comfort layers is to remove them and replace them with better quality foam. It’s much easier to add softness to a mattress that is too firm than to “fix” a mattress where the deeper support layers are too soft or where the comfort layers have softened too much. There is more about this in post #4 here which has a few suggestions that may help but in general you are better off learning from the experience and choosing a more appropriate mattress that won’t have the same issues (or where the issues will take longer to develop) than the one you have (even though it’s better quality and value than most competing mattresses).

They are both a major manufacturer which I would avoid and an airbed which I think in most cases are a waste of money. There is more about airbeds and the reasons for my thoughts in this article.

Yes … I would say that probably 75% or more of the mattresses purchased today are much lower quality and value than they should be. The top 15 manufacturers control about 86% of the market and the top 5 control about 3/4 of this and most of the mattresses they make are not good value and in many cases use poor quality materials as well. there are several hundred local manufacturers that don’t advertise as much and aren’t as “flashy” but they have been making great quality and value mattresses for generations in many cases.

I would first spend a couple of hours reading the previous posts i mentioned and the other information it links to. This will give you a better understanding of what you may need and why the mattresses you have bought aren’t lasting you for very long.

If you did decide to buy a cheap air mattress then I would pump it up as firm as it will go and add a high quality topper of your choice of material (with a suitable thickness for good pressure relief). The same would hold true for a cheap innerspring but I would look for the best possible and firmest innerspring with the firmest, highest quality, and least amount of polyfoam above it and add a high quality topper to this as well. It may be difficult to find a good “base” innerspring mattress in this price range that doesn’t have too much cheap foam above the springs. Don’t forget that the much higher quality mattress you have from OMF only lasted for 2 years (although a big part of the reason for this was probably the suitability of the design) and a lower quality mattress will likely last even less. The goal with this type of “component” system is to have an inexpensive and very firm support base and then to spend the money for a high quality topper for a comfort layer to provide you with the pressure relief you need.

Hotel mattresses are usually no better than consumer mattresses (and often worse) but they are selected to be in a sweet spot that many people prefer “on average” and that will be fine for a few days, are usually in fairly good condition, and often use mattress pads or toppers that extend their life and can be replaced. There are countless people who for many reasons like a hotel mattress only to find if they buy one that they are not nearly as suitable in long term use at home and they are certainly not good value. I would put most of them in the “major brand” category which I would avoid.

Overall I would first see if any of the suggestions in the “mattress sagging” post may help and beyond this I would look at connecting with some of the better mattress manufacturers or sleep shops in your area to see what may be available either for a low cost “base” mattress that is suitable for use with a topper or for a better value and more suitable mattress that may be in your budget range. While I understand the attraction of low cost “fixes” … the quality of your sleep is also important and can have a bigger effect on how you feel than almost anything else you may buy and poor quality sleep for two years with a mattress that didn’t “work” for you would not be a “bargain” in my opinion … especially when if you know where to look and what to look for you can find great value in lower budget ranges as well.