Tempurpedic mattress on sale at the Brick in Nanaimo, BC

My husband & I have been looking for a new mattress. We want a queen size firm mattresses as we both suffer from back problems. We have always had a coil mattress but have heard about how good memory foam mattresses are. We both tend to sleep on our sides/front & we always seem to wake up sore & not rested.

While shopping around I found a Tempurpedic mattress at The Brick here in Nanaimo. It had been returned as apparently the customer found it too firm. I was told it was an original Tempurpedic mattress, an Advantage model. The price is very good & the warranty & return policy of 60 days remains intact.

Since shopping around I found this website while doing research. Another blog discussed buying locally at either The FoamGuy or John’s Bedroom Barn. Now I am trying to compare what they have to offer against this deal @ The Brick. Prices are fairly close with the Tempurpedic being almost $800 off. Are you familiar with the Advantage model & can you possibly tell me how they all compare?

I would appreciate any help as I seem to be getting more & more confused. Thank you.

Hi Branti,

While $800 off a $2000 mattress set (queen) seems like good value (or at least it puts the tempurpedic in the range of other options of equal quality) I would still look at a few things before I went in this direction.

Have you slept on a memory foam mattress before for more than a night or two? Are you comfortable the tradeoffs involved with choosing a memory foam mattress over other options and materials? When you test this mattress … does it give you the pressure relief you need and the spinal alignment that is important? Do you tend to sleep hot on some memory foams?

In post #2 in the “Victoria” thread here, there are three outlets listed (including the 2 you mentioned) which I believe provide the best value in and around Nanaimo. I would certainly compare the mattresses they are offering with the Advantage and then make your choices based on which ones give you the best pressure relief, the best alignment, and are closest to your preferences of how a mattress should “feel” (less or more lively, ease of movement, breathability and heat etc). The Aerus foam at The Foam Guy is very breathable and among the “coolest” of all memory foams.

At the price of the Advantage … I would certainly include it in the running … but it still may not be the best choice in terms of what suits you best even though the value is much better than normal. On a personal level it wouldn’t be my first choice but that has more to do with my own preferences and the types of layering I would choose to “compensate” for some of the weaknesses of memory foam if I were to include memory foam in a mattress.

The good news is that you have 4 choices for good value when most of the people in Nanaimo would only have 3 :slight_smile:


Thanks Phoenix, appreciate any & all help. We have a hold on the Tempurapedic mattress (which ends today) but I think we will slow down & take the time to check all other options. Even with that low price you are right, it may not be the right mattress for us.
I am so glad that I found this site…have been spending much time reading through various posts. So much info and a lot seems to depend on where you live as to what is available. At least we have 3 other options open to us here. I did notice that most of the mattresses that I could find on 2 websites had only 5 year warrantys. I know you say that warrantys aren’t the thing to be looking at but that seems rather short compared to the 20 year warranty for Tempurapediic. Would this be because they are using less dense memory foam & polyfoam in their mattresses?

Sorry is these questions are redundant but I’m new to your site and still haven’t been able to read all that has been posted.

Hi Branti,

It’s hard to say why any particular manufacturer chooses a particular warranty but it may well point to the use of lower quality materials … although the actual specs of the materials in the mattress would say more than the warranty. Sometimes increasing the warranty length is used as a way to upsell customers on buying more foam … errrr … I mean a “better”/ thicker (cough) mattress.

I would ask why the warranty is only 5 years and see if there is a legitimate reason. A typical conversation (in a mass market outlet with a “less than knowledgeable salesperson”) may welll go something like this …

Q. Why is the warranty on this mattress only 5 years?

A. Because its a lower quality/cost mattress.

Q. What makes it a lower quality/cost mattress?

A. They use lower quality/cost materials and/or “its not as thick and comfortable”

Q. What type of materials are in it?

A. It has an innerspring and polyfoam (or polyfoam and memory foam etc)?

Q. What type of polyfoam/memory foam and what’s the density of the layers?

A. I think its my lunch time (coffee break etc) … just believe me its lower quality! :slight_smile:


I went out today to check into the 2 local manufacturers. I was quite impressed with The Foam Guy, very knowledgable & forthcoming. The mattress that I am going back with my husband to see seemed to have all the qualities (if I have understood correctly) that you mentioned. It has 2" of latex 32, then 1 1/2" Aerus 5#, 2 1/2" Actvus med. & lastly 3 1/2" Actvus firm. Hopefully these names & numbers mean something good. I wasn’t able to test it today as that gentleman from Victoria that posted on this site bought the floor model. I did ask about the warranty & I can’t now recall his answer, although at the time it seemed appropriate. I am getting overwhelmed with all this info, way too much to have to know. The 2nd manufacturer, John’s Bedroom Barn, had some good quality mattresses as well & the salesperson I spoke with said she would get the owner to answer any questions she couldn’t. Both of these companies & owners have been around Nanaimo for many years.
Just to let you know, I have been reading a lot of posts and trying to take notes. Kind of reminds me of being back in school. Only difference here is that the info now is very pertinent to me.

Thanks again.

Hi Branti,

I’m that guy from Victoria. My wife & I went up to The Foam Guy on Saturday and fell in love with “The Bentley” model, and brought it home. It is awesome! Do yourself a favour and go see John again when he gets another one in. I’m confident that you’ll love it too. I was ready to spend $1800.00 on a Serta iComfort Revolution, and I feel that I got a much much better mattress for considerably less money. There’s also something to be said for supporting the local guy too.

Hi Branti,

Yes … I would consider all the different foams (latex, memory foam, and polyfoam) that are in the mattress to be high quality. As far as whether it would be suitable for you would depend on testing it for PPP (pressure relief, posture, and preferences). Your weight and body shape as well as your sleeping positions are a big part of what would make any particular mattress construction or layering suitable for an individual, even if it uses very high quality materials.

It’s always amazing to me how much mattress construction involves both science and art. I think that’s part of the reason I enjoy it so much since it appeals to both my left and right (or some people might say no) brain :slight_smile: There is always more to learn and I’m always grateful to the many people who have shared their many years of experience and knowledge with me … and continue to do so.


Was wondering what did you buy? Just curious. This thread doesn’t have an outcome.


I have to agree with Anonymous. What brands should we consumers be focused more on? I understand the point of driving away from the big names and supporting the small name brands due to the conditions of the economy. However we all have different situations, like my self I am a person whom has to move a lot so a warranty or something to that extent has to be nationally recognized for my case. Mainly due to all the different circumstances and questions we are all continually ask you on different types, circumstances etc. I think that you should talk about the different types of companies to say your two cents on these brands meaning 1. Stay Away 2. Ok 3. Recommend. This will allow us to better ask you questions after we are able to see the differences you speak about if applicable by trying them at stores near us seeming how we are all spread across the country. I am just trying to make a way for you to save your hands from typing large amounts of the same information in many different ways. This should allow you to spell out exactly the things you like about these companies etc. Thanks again for your help that you doing us all with the knowledge and information you are sitting on this topic.

How are you locating these independent mattress companies in each state and things like that will also allow us to assist ourselves and assist others in this forum as we all focus on that perfect night sleep.

I do not mean to come across in a rude manner but rather a means of self helping us from the knowledge you know and this will allow us to ask questions that are a little more thought through rather then giving you specifications of are body dimensions. This will allow us to ask you more direct questions on the questions we then have based on are experiences on that type of mattress or brand. I’ll get off my soap box, but just trying to help give a little more direction on how we can self help ourselves, from your extensive knowledge.


Hi Jonnybravo,

None. Focusing on brands and misleading information to promote “brand differentiation” is a big part of what is wrong with the industry.

This has nothing to do with the conditions of the economy but with buying higher value and quality mattresses. The smaller independent brands as a whole make better mattresses at lower cost in any economic environment.

Warranties in general are a marketing tool used to sell mattresses to consumers who usually don’t realize how they work … not something that will benefit a consumer to any meaningful degree. Manufacturing defects will generally show up early in the life of a mattress and the softening or degrading of the foams in mattresses is not covered by warranty as it is normally part of the warranty exclusions. All manufacturers have a warranty and the smaller independents will generally be far more focused on honoring legitimate warranty issues than the major manufacturers who focus more on finding reasons not to.

There is not a chance that I would go in this direction more than I already do. When I invite a manufacturer to be a member of this site … it is because I they build higher quality/value mattresses. That to me could be considered my highest recommendation as they are what I consider to be the best of the best. I also make comments in many of my posts about specific manufacturers in specific areas that I have talked with that I also consider to also have higher quality/value and I believe and hope that many of these will also become members when the time comes to invite them when I know them and they know me better but this is also not a specific recommendation.

Over time I will certainly do more “analysis/reviews” of many mattresses made by major manufacturers but they will be focused on materials … not on the brand itself. Even a recommended “brand” says nothing about a specific mattress that may be suitable to a specific person. If there is a brand that I would highly recommend … it is called “off brands” by the major manufacturers and major outlets. I use it as a compliment. They use it in a derogatory way.

Focusing on brands rather than materials and construction makes no sense and would contribute to the problem rather than the solution. It is not the label on a mattress which makes it pressure relieving, supportive, or provides the preferences that people need and/or want. It is the materials and construction inside it.

Let me give you a few examples to illustrate what I mean …

Simmons … a major brand … made a mattress called the Natural Care Elite (note the “elite”). It uses all talalay latex and has 2" of polyfoam in the bottom of the mattress which is insignificant. This is a very high quality mattress using very high quality materials. It is almost always significantly overpriced in comparison to a mattress with the exact same layering and materials which could be made by many smaller manufacturers. If this mattress was available to someone at a significant discount … I would recommend it in terms of the quality of the materials (in some of them). Unfortunately this would be very rare.

Several Restonic licensees make latex mattresses in some areas of the country which are all talalay latex. They too are generally overpriced. If they were available in the same price range as an independent manufacturer who made virtually the same mattress using the same materials … I would recommend them as well in terms of the quality of the materials (which again has nothing to do with whether a mattress would be a suitable choice for a specific person).

Englander also makes some good quality mattresses and in some rare cases they too don’t use too much cheap polyfoam above the latex. If the price was competitive with local manufacturing … I would recommend these as well in terms of the material quality.

Eclipse makes some mattresses which have 2 or 3" of latex over polyfoam. These too at the right price represent good value … all other things being equal.

If a major manufacturer suddenly decided to use HR polyfoam in the comfort layers of their mattresses and then reduced the prices significantly over what they are now (rather than increased them because they were using more expensive materials) … then on a mattress by mattress basis … I would probably suggest that people consider them as well because they might then compete with local manufacturers. I think everyone in the industry knows however that this will never happen.

Many long days of ongoing research and many long phone calls. While I probably have over 95% of them listed … I am still finding new ones that I didn’t know about both through various lists available online and through manufacturers telling me about the “competition” they respect that sometimes doesn’t even have a web presence. In time as this website develops … the resources that are available on it will grow significantly. Nothing is ever as fast as I want it to be. Even a post like this can take several hours as I am trying to put good quality information in the forum which will act as a resource for more web pages and other “parts” of this project that are part of my long term plans. In the next year … the questions on this forum and the increasing scope of the information on the site will result in many enhancements to the site where I can just refer people to pre-existing information which answers their questions. For now it is still in the early stages of its growth in many areas.

All of this will come in time …although the articles on the main site itself already includes a lot of information which covers much of this in quite specific detail. Also don’t forget … that if the focus moves too much in technical areas … then in some ways it becomes self defeating. It is much more important to work with a manufacturer who can tell you this information which can then be tested with a mattress on their floor than to focus on “theory at a distance” which can only provide general guidelines. While I can certainly “translate” peoples experiences in mattress testing into suggestions … without the testing there is no real way to know what an ideal layering would be like for each individual except in terms of a starting point (which is already covered in the articles on the site). There are just too many subjective and objective variables to be able to predict with any certainty what any particular person will do well on.

If I can help a consumer to walk through the front door of a high quality and high value manufacturer in their area … then my help or even the resources of this website wouldn’t even be needed as they would have it right where they were testing mattresses. The biggest problem is getting credible information out to the public and to help them stay away from the influences and advertising that dominates the industry.

I don’t take any genuine questions or comments as rude. All of this will happen in time as part of the plan for this site is to make it more “automatic” so I can spend more time with my family and work more “normal” hours. There are many things that will appear here over the next few years but the base has to be built first. I welcome genuine comments … and even some that have appeared here that are not quite so “genuine”.

I knew when I started this that it was a long term project and that it would take a great deal of time and effort to get it to where I wanted it to be and to a point where it would actually make a difference in the industry. I am far ahead of where I thought I would be in 8 months or so even though there is a very long way to go :slight_smile:

Thanks for your comments, and I hope that the long reply dealt with your “concerns” or gave you a sense of why I focus in the directions that I do. While I am the actual person who wears the hats that run the site … there are dozens of people who have shared their knowledge and insights with me about mattresses and the industry in general that are the reasons behind whatever I may know and the directions I am going.

Just to end this long reply here is a sad webpage of a larger regional manufacturer who just went out of business after 47 years that was a “victim” of both the economy but more even than that … the direction of the industry itself http://lemoynesleeper.com/

There are many more which have gone under even in the time this website has been in existence. If I can make a difference and help consumers understand where real value really exists … then some of these multi generational manufacturers may continue to exist and thrive. That would please me to no end and make what I am doing worthwhile.



Thanks for your long response. However I am tracking what your laying down. My focus is more of your experience of companies we should be staying away from meaning these companies would be companies that I would buy from based on your extensive knowledge. As for the others its just that. My focus is to better understand what companies I should be looking to buy rather then companies like the Big S brands. This is more of my customer focus on why you would focus on buying from those specific brands. Thanks again for your comments. Just trying to see your perspective on all of these brands.

I have to agree being to technical would be self defeating but just trying to get to that kind of level to better understand the focus of again brands what we should be focusing on.


Hi Jonnybbravo,

Let me try this from another direction.

If you search for reviews on particular brand names … you will find hundreds of sites which try to take advantage of brand name searches to improve their rankings and create more advertising revenue from google ads etc. Most of these “expert review” sites do nothing more than muddy the already confused waters and are nothing more than generic mumbo jumbo. The information on their site is designed around key words more than facts.

You will also find many sites that are seemingly authoritative but promote incorrect information which clearly has a hidden agenda behind it. “This is good and this is bad” type of information. Their goal is to sell mattresses or to create links to sites which sell them.

There are also many review sites which supposedly help consumers make better decisions but are only repeating misinformation or “partly correct” information which is posted in a million other places. Many of these too are brand oriented and tell people this brand is good and this brand is bad based on reviews by people who know little about mattresses or how they are constructed. Someone reads this and believes that what works for 10 people (most of whom are talking about different mattresses sold under the same brand) will also be good for them.

Major mattress manufacturers depend on branding differentiation which create the impression that their mattresses somehow use superior materials or have superior performance and that they have some “proprietary” secret that nobody else has. None of this is backed up with actual facts. They depend on “stories” which are nothing more than attempts to differentiate themselves from hundreds of similar mattresses sold by other manuacturers and then make it impossible to validate these stories or make meaningful comparisons using various techniques such as selling the same mattress under different names or using “proprietary” names for the materials they use that “sound” different from the same materials used by other manufacturers. These major manufacturers work closely with major mass market retail outlets and chain stores and together they create the stories that they believe will sell the consumer which in turn becomes the basis for their advertising.

The smaller manufacturers (at least the better ones) work in a completely different way. They have a shorter supply chain (less mouths to feed), are owned privately, have built their business on their reputation and the quality and value and durability of their product, and work within a much smaller profit margin. They are run by what I call “mattress people” rather than by investment groups or financial interests who pay more attention to methods of increasing already high profit margins than they do to materials.

The big “S” brands are just part of the problem. Many of the top 15 - 20 manufacturers are run in the same way as their “S” counterparts with only a few exceptions. Even these few exceptions don’t often have the value of smaller local or regional manufacturers and when they do … their mattresses are often licensee groups and their mattresses are made differently in different areas of the country. Even with these … a focus on brand only creates the impression that a certain brand is good to buy rather than a certain construction and combination of high quality materials that suits an individual.

So to answer your main point, the companies I would tend to buy from are not national brands at all and have no national branding identity. Most of them would not even be recognized as a “brand” even by local consumers. Even in a local area … most consumers may not even know they exist (with the exception of some of the larger ones like Original Mattress Factory, Verlo, and Denver Mattress). I can’t tell you how many times I have known about manufacturers in a local area while the people who live there have never even heard about the manufacturers I mention or even found them in their online research. This is because the market is flooded with chain store and major manufacturer advertising and fake websites which has convinced consumers to go to mass market outlets and created a false sense of urgency with their fake sales.

Not all independent local manufacturers are great of course … and some of them don’t use high quality materials or produce great value … but as a group they generally offer much better materials at much lower prices … if you make “apples to apples” comparisons. Their problem is consumer perception, influenced by misinformation and advertising, that a mattress with say 1.2 lb or 1.0 lb polyfoam that has a made up fancy name is just as good as 1.8 lb polyfoam or 2.5 lb polyfoam. They compare cheap polyfoam to quality polyfoam and buy the mattress made by the brand name in a chain store which uses low quality material because they believe the story attached to it. Same with memory foam where consumers have little information which allows them to make meaningful comparisons. Many consumers don’t even realize that memory foam mattresses only contain memory foam on top and that there is another material underneath it. Same with latex where major brands call a mattress with an inch or two of latex a “latex mattress” and the consumer doesn’t know enough to differentiate this from a mattress which is all latex and the stores that sell them encourage this type of belief.

So where to buy a mattress? …

The answer is almost always a local or regional smaller manufacturer who sells direct to consumers or sells wholesale to smaller sleep shops which are willing to compare what they sell based on materials rather then branding stories. A focus on brands will always lead to consumers taking the easy way out … not taking responsibility for doing any research into materials … and in the end being at the mercy of branding stories which have nothing to do with reality and leads to lower quality mattresses which won’t last as long.

I could go on and share some of the specific things that have happened in the industry to lower quality and create the perception that lowered quality was a “consumer benefit” in the last few decades (one sided mattresses and pillowtops with lower quality foams quickly come to mind) … but they are already in many articles on the site and in the forum. If this site helps a consumer walk through the front door of an ethical local manufacturer or sleep shop that they have never heard of and would never have found otherwise … and they know enough to recognize the signs of value (stores that talk about materials, are transparent about what is in their mattresses, have no fake sales or negotiated prices, have usually been in business for a long time or have long term history, and encourage comparison shopping based on meaningful information), then this site has done its job. If I were to focus on specific brands … I would only be encouraging consumers to relinquish their responsibility to do some initial research and use the “brand” shortcut and set them up for even more of what is already happening.

Of course small independent manufacturers are brands … or at least their companies have a name … but they tend to only be available locally or in some cases regionally. They also understand that consumers who buy by brand are far more likely to buy a mattress that may actually use high quality materials but which is completely unsuitable for their needs or preferences. They focus on what a customer really needs and have the knowledge and experience to help them and educate them.

National brands are isolated from the consumer. The consumer buys mattresses so rarely that by the time they are ready to replace a mattress they know so little and get confused so quickly that they will buy almost anything based on the false perception of where they are getting the best so called “deal”. They also compare what they are buying to a worn out mattress and almost anything will feel better when they get it home … and the bigger stores know this. They are completely vulnerable to the managed environment of the showrooms of most mass market outlets.

Major manufacturers sell (and answer to) stores … and their product is the profit margin they can provide to the stores based on consumer perception which is controlled by advertising stories … not factual or meaningful information. Local manufacturers and small sleep shops sell to (and answer to) consumers … and their product is value and long term satisfaction and enhanced sleep based on materials and construction. One supports a long chain of mouths to feed … each of whom take a big profit bite at the expense of quality materials. The other feeds their family and a much smaller group of people and steps along the way … and they take much smaller bites and don’t eat nearly as much.

Consumers who have some basic information about mattresses and materials are an independent manufacturer’s best friend … and most larger national brands and the chain stores that sell them can often end up being a consumer’s worst nightmare. :slight_smile:



Again thanks for your comment. I believe this will clearly answer any persons questions that I have continually posed at you on this subject :slight_smile: . I got what you are saying and just wish that there was one website we could utilize to see what small companies are in our parts of the woods. Is there one that you would recommend? I still have the few that you have posted on another forum. Again thanks for your time and Happy Thanksgiving!


Hi jonnybravo,

Yes … and you are on it :slight_smile: I have posted dozens on this forum and as I have the chance I keep posting more that are within driving distance of anyone who comes here and lets me know where they live. Each time someone posts from a certain area … I tend to do more research into that area and often make a few phone calls to manufacturers in the area so I can get a better sense of who they are.

Part of the problem with posting a list with just “any” manufacturer on it without any “comments” is that there are many who I would not even mention at all for fear that someone may believe that mentioning them is some kind of recommendation or that they are “typical” of local manufacturing when in some cases they are not.

In the latest (2007) census, there were 552 mattress manufacturers who had at least one employee. This is down from 597 5 years before. Most of the “casualties” are smaller independent manufacturers … and there have been many more since then.

Out of this amount … many of them are larger manufacturers or licensees who wholesale mattresses or are part of larger “brands”. Many of them are “opportunists” who pop up … make some bad mattresses for a little while … and then disappear. Many of them make good mattresses but don’t have the value that many of the better local independents have. In other words … the list of manufacturers I would actually recommend may be smaller than you think. Small local and independent manufacturing in North America is sadly a declining industry.

As I work my way through them and get to know more of them better over the coming months and years … I expect that there will end up being less than 100 and perhaps around 50, spread out over the US and Canada, which I would welcome as members here. These would be most of what I consider to be “the best of the best”. Hopefully most of them would want to be part of the membership here and over time come to see its value as much as I would want to have them and recognize their value but some may wish for various reasons to remain more anonymous or not be part of this site. It’s just as important for them to know me as for me to know them and many of them have been around for a long time and take their time and “watch” what happens before they embrace the “new guy on the block”.

There are currently 16 manufacturing members and several more who will likely become members in the near future. I have no doubt that this will reach the 50 or more that I hope for based on growing knowledge and conversations with many more who are not yet members.

I actually posted many local “lists” on “whats the best” and there are many dozens of manufacturers on those lists from all over the country. I have continued that process here and expanded on it city by city as the opportunity presented itself and many I have linked to here were not even included in my posts there. My desire to actually become part of the industry in some way in and in particular that I was posting these lists and actually talking with these manufacturers was part of the reason I was banned from posting there. My interests, beliefs, and focus did not match the interests, beliefs, and focus of the ownership of that site … even though there are some very good people (and some very mixed up people) who give advice on their forum. In the end … the reasons why these two sites exist are very different even though they both have forums (along with several others) which hopefully can help people.

Thanks to you as well for all your questions and comments … and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well.



Not sure if this is worth mentioning to you but found this to be an interesting article from a site that I tend to read through time to time for technology etc. The site is called LIFEHACKER simply a DYI site that imparts a lot of different types of knowledge another would be Gizmodo.

Here is the article
Link: http://lifehacker.com/5862152/how-to-choose-the-right-mattress-so-you-sleep-peacefully-every-night

How to Choose the Right Mattress

A while ago we explained how important it is to spend your money where you spend your time, and considering we spend at least a third of our lives asleep or in bed, skimping on your mattress or sleeping surface can be detrimental to your health. At the same time, not everyone has the budget for the top of the line, state of the art mattress. We asked some chiropractors and orthopedists what they suggest you look for when shopping for a mattress. Here’s what they said.
Photo by tifonimages/Shutterstock.

Do Your Research, and Go In With a Budget

The first thing you should do before you even head out to shop for mattresses is know how much you’re willing to spend. Going into any major purchase with a budget and spending cap in mind will help you avoid spending too much, and will also help you buy the best mattress you can afford while avoiding the extra fluff and accessories that mattress stores are notorious for trying to load you up with. Keep those add-ons and accessories in mind when you head to the store. As soon as you select a mattress, the salesperson will try and sell you on mattress covers, extended warranties, bedframes, and other accessories that you may or may not actually need.

Mattress stores are notorious for making it difficult to impossible to comparison shop, so don’t expect to be able to go from store to store and see the same mattress there for different prices. You’re better off paying attention to mattress brand and mattress type when you go shopping. Don’t put too much stock in model names or “line” names. One store may have a line from a prominent manufacturer under one name, and another store will have a line from the same manufacturer under another name, and in reality the mattresses are the same and simply marketed differently for different retailers.

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, check out your local mattress stores’ circulars or web sites to see what’s on sale. Make notes of model names and numbers that are in your price range, and when you get to the store, ask to see those specific models. In some cases, mattress stores only stock a few of the models on sale (so you don’t find out they’re out of stock until you’re in the store), so find out early if they have what you’re looking for.

Understand What Type of Mattress Is Right for You

Mattress manufacturers and retailers have dozens of names for different types of mattresses, but there are only really a few basic types:

Tempur-Pedic/Memory Foam - Tempur-Pedic mattresses are actually a brand name, but many people use them to describe any mattress type that uses “memory foam,” or another type of foam that molds to the shape of your body while you sleep, and offers even support all over your body. You essentially sink into it, and the mattress applies even pressure to your body at all points. Tempur-Pedic and memory foam mattresses tend to get warm over the course of the night, so if you need a cool sleeping surface under you, they may not be right for you.
Sleep Number Beds - Sleep number beds use inflatable air pressure chambers inside of the mattress that you can customize to suit the level of firmness you want in your sleeping surface. You can, at any time, make the mattress firmer or softer, and depending on the model you get, you can tilt the bed up into a reclining position, or you can get sleep number beds that have different chambers on either side of the bed, so you and your spouse or partner can enjoy different levels of firmness. “Sleep Number Bed” is a trademark of Select Comfort, who makes most of the beds that fit this description. They tend to be fairly pricey.
Firm vs. Plush - Firm and plush, as their names imply, indicate the firmness or softness of the mattress in question. You’ll see some mattresses described as “extra firm, firm, plush, ultra plush,” to denote how hard or soft the mattress actually is. In some cases, to get to the “ultra plush” end of the scale, manufacturers add thick pillowtops and cushions to the tops of a standard matress to make it feel softer. You can also find mattress types in between like “cushion firm” or “pillowtop” or a firm mattress that has extra padding on the sides and top or a pillowtop on it that makes the mattress softer when you lay in it, but still is firm enough to provide support while you sleep.
Photo by jon.

Try Everything that Interests You, Start on the High End and Work Your Way Down

If you have a mattress salesperson who’s trying to get you on and off a floor model quickly, run—don’t walk—to the exits. You won’t be able to judge whether a mattress is comfortable if you only get to lay down on it for 30 seconds. Get the sales person to bring you a test pillow so you can try the mattress in the same position you sleep, and rest on it for a good few minutes. Give yourself time to relax and settle into the mattress before you make a decision about whether it’s too firm or soft or just doesn’t feel right.

One great way to find a mattress that you’ll like is to start with the high-end mattresses in the store and work your way down from there. You may be leading your salesperson on a little bit, but the point is that you get to experience the super high-end top-of-the-line mattresses first to get a feel for how comfortable they are, and then you start to step down in features and padding until you start to test mattresses that are less comfortable than you’d like. Then you’ll know where the balance is, and you can make a decision based on comfort and budget.

What Our Experts Said

A number of the chiropractors and orthopedists that I spoke to for this story had specific brand suggestions for people looking for the most comfort and a mattress designed with health in mind. Massachusetts chiropractor Dr. Benjamin Ryan tells his patients that if you can afford it, the Sleep Number bed by Select Comfort is the way to go, especially if you and the person sleeping next to you prefer different levels of firmness in your sleeping surface. He suggests spending a little less money to get a model without a fancy control or pillowtop, and then going out and buying a pillowtop from your local bed and bath store if you want a little more softness. He explained to me that he went to a department store for a memory foam layer and added it to his mattress when he decided it was too firm. He rightly notes that you can always make a firm mattress a little softer by putting something on top of it—you can’t make a soft mattress firmer.

Maryland -based Chiropractor Dr. WIlliam Bleam on the other hand, suggest you look into Tempur-Pedic mattresses. He warned that Tempur-Pedic mattresses can be “warmer” than others and retain heat overnight. He explained he’s proud owner of a Tempur-Pedic mattress, but notes that if you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend the money on the brand name, there are a number of more affordable “memory foam” mattresses that offer the same style of sleeping and comfort. It’s also worth noting that “form to fit” style mattresses can be difficult to get in and out of, and definitely aren’t for everyone, but they do offer even support while sleeping (as opposed to “innercoil” mattresses, which Dr. Bleam recommends against), and can be perfect for people who fall asleep in one position and stay in it for most of the night.

Photo by Dave Matos.

Dr. Jon Donshik, an orthopedic surgeon based in Aventura, Florida, dismissed the notion of brand loyalty entirely. He explained that while brand name mattresses are definitely the standard, he tells his patients to go with what “feels right,” and not to blow the bank on a mattress unless you’ve tried it in the store for a good long test and you’ve fallen in love with it. He explained that expensive mattresses may feel better, but they won’t instantly cure back pain, which can be caused by a number of factors, so be careful with your money.

Whatever mattress you choose, our experts agree that you should try the best and work your way to a level that meets your needs for comfort and support but also fits in your budget. That said, don’t set your budget unreasonably low—you’re going to spend a lot of time in bed, you at least want to be comfortable, and an uncomfortable night’s sleep can lend itself to other problems during your waking hours.

Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle

You’ve tested several mattresses, and you’re ready to pick one. Now it comes down to price. Some mattress stores offer no-haggle pricing, and they’ll try and get more money out of you on accessories and warranties, but if you’re shopping in any of the major chains, the price is almost always flexible. Don’t be afraid to ask for a price, and then propose something different, or let the salesperson know that you really like this model but you’re not willing to spend X-amount of dollars on it. You won’t get a yes every time, but you may be able to negotiate an acceptable price on a mattress that you initially thought was out of your price range.

Pay attention to sales and holiday weekends where you’re likely to get a good price. Mattrress retailers tend to do a lot of business on weekends you may not expect, like over Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day. If you are vet, don’t hesitate to mention it when you go shopping, you may be eligible for a discount.

Take Advantage of Your In-Home Trial, and Lock In a Good Warranty

Before you seal the deal, make sure that the mattress comes with delivery and disposal of your old mattress (often something you can negotiate in for free), a solid warranty and your retailer has an in-home trial period. Most reputable retailers will give you 30 to 60 days to try out the mattress in your home, and if you hate it, they’ll refund your money or exchange you for another mattress. Make the most of that period of time, and pay close attention to how you’re sleeping and how you feel when you’re awake.

You won’t be able to tell much from the first couple of days, but once you get used to it, Virginia-based chiropractor Dr. Eugene Su says you should start feeling better overall. If you have more energy and getting up in the morning is easier than it used to be, you may be on to something good. He also warns against falling in behind a specific brand, model, or type, and encourages his patients to try different types of mattresses to see what they find most comfortable. If you have the mattress at home already, he suggest you pay attention to a few specific things:

When you wake up, do you have less energy, or more?
After you’ve been up for a while, do you have any unusual soreness, or aches and pains, specifically in your back or sides?
When you do get up and get ready, what’s your mood like? Are you ready to take on the day, or do you find you’re suddenly really grumpy in the mornings (compared to your usual self, of course?)
Are you tossing an turning, or frequently waking up to shift position during the night?
Dr. Su notes that all of these symptoms are also warning signs that it’s about time to replace your mattress, but if you’re trying out a new mattress at home for the first month and you see these signs getting worse and not better, it may be time to call the mattress store and trade for a different model.

If you’ve had your mattress for a few months and you still notice you’re uncomfortable, or the mattress is suddenly uneven, don’t hesitate to call the manufacturer and make a warranty claim. A warranty claim will net you the same mattress you already have, most likely, but if the problem is a defect, you’ll be happy you have it. As we’ve said before, make sure an extended warranty or protection plan is worth it before buying. A good manufacturer’s warranty will serve you better than a retailer’s replacement plan in many cases, and instead of spending the extra money, consider an extended warranty fund with the money you would have spent on a protection plan in case issues come up.

Photo by Joel Washing.

With luck, these tips will help you walk into the mattress store informed and ready to test and buy the right mattress for you. Don’t forget to test several, and some mattress stores have sleep tests you can take to determine how firm or soft your mattress should be. They’ll help you get started, but trust yourself, you’ll know when the mattress you’re lying on is something you can see yourself resting on all night.

Do you have any additional mattress buying tips? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Dr. William Bleam III, D.C. is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic based at Morrison Chiropractic in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Dr. Jon Donshik, M.D., M.B.A is an Orthopedic Surgeon based in Aventura, Florida.
Dr. Benjamin Ryan, D.C. is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic based at the New Life Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Georgetown, Massachusetts.
Dr. Eugene Su, D.C. is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic based at the Beyond Wellness center in Virginia.

All four gentlemen volunteered their expertise and opinions for this post, and we thank them for their help.

To me it has some pros and cons in the search for a mattress. However in some ways it also has marketing ploys in how Dr.'s are making recommendations to specific brands but again each is own and he is possibly going off experience, knowledge and what he is educated to do based on his knowledge of the product. But again this is just my two cents. Hopefully you may or may not benefit from reading this information.


Hi jonnybbravo,

Like most articles of this type … there is some good but overly generic information along with some really, really bad information. Overall IMO, articles like this do a lot more harm than good and they sound a lot better than they really are. They perpetuate many myths that have no fact behind them and reinforce the overall negative direction the industry has taken over the last many years. There is little understanding in this article about the real nature of the industry and the opinions by so called “experts” are in many cases just plain wrong or “half true” and based on personal bias presented as fact. They also show little understanding about the materials and construction of mattresses or some of the real issues facing consumers in the industry.

This is a better example of what not to believe and the general confusion in the industry than it is about what to look for when you are mattress shopping. The “each to his own” approach plays right into the hands of the worst influences in the industry. While opinions are always valid as an opinion … there is certainly a difference between opinions and fact and an “expert” with an opinion that can’t or won’t give the reasons behind them does more harm than good.

While I appreciate you posting it here … I certainly hope that anyone who reads it … or the many others like it … have lots of grains of salt handy when they read it :slight_smile: