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Are all "firm" mattresses the same?

Labels vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. One company's "firm" may actually feel harder than another company's "extra firm." The only way to know if a mattress is "just right" for you is to lie down on it and try it out. And really try it out; don't just take a quick dive. Spend some time on the mattress in various sleep positions - on your side, stomach, and back. If the mattress is for two, have your partner try it out, too. Really relax and don't get up until you've got a good feel as to whether a particular mattress is a fit for you.

Image of Husband and Wife Sleeping Comfortably with Little Boy

Is the mattress comfortable?

Thankfully, you don't have to find the hardest mattress out there anymore in order to have the support you need for a good night's sleep. In fact, recent research suggests that a medium-firm mattress may be more likely to improve back pain than a firmer mattress. New methods for cushioning and treatments of fabric give newer mattresses an incredibly rich and soft texture. Super comfortable.

Does the mattress give the right support?

Your spine should rest as if you are standing up straight. Are the heaviest parts of your body - shoulders, hips, and lower back - well supported? If not, you can develop back pain. And if the mattress is too hard for you, you might feel uncomfortable pressure. A good mattress should gently support your body at all points.

Does the size of the sleep space matter?

Yes! Even healthy sleepers move 40 to 60 times a night. That includes over ten full body turns! You need to be able to move around in order to fall asleep and to stay asleep. If you sleep with a partner, make sure - at minimum - to select a queen size bed. A king size bed would be even better. These beds are wider and several inches longer than the standard "double" or "full size" bed.

Image of sleeping children

How long will my new mattress last?

Most of today's mattresses are sold with only one sleep surface. This means they require less maintenance, plus they provide comfort and support longer than earlier mattresses. And ... there's no need to flip!

couple in bed

Is the mattress comfortable?

Your new mattress will last longest when the best materials and manufacturing processes are used. To get the longest possible use of your new set, purchase the highest quality sleep set you can afford. Knowledgeable sales staff can help you make that choice.

How much space do mattresses take?

  • King 76" x 80"
  • California King 72" x 84"
  • Queen 60" x 80"
  • Full (Double) 53" x 75"
  • Twin 38" x 75"

Note: If you sleep with a partner don't choose anything smaller than a Queen. You need the personal space to move around.)e.

What kind of mattress should I choose?

There are many types of mattresses from which to choose. The following descriptions should help you choose which will be right for you.

INNERSPRINGS: Mattresses with innersprings are, by far, the most widely purchased mattresses. These use tempered steel coils to support the body. Usually, the more coils, the more support and firmness. Or you may like a mattress with fewer coils as it will "give" a little more. Heavier gauge coils also lend more support. Watch out for low coil mattresses with heavy gauge coils. These are often listed as firm, but over time can become lumpy and uncomfortable. The fabric and upholstery will also affect the comfort of these mattresses.

Specialty Bedding

Foam, Memory Foam (visco-elastic), Gel and Latex all form a category of non-spring mattresses that offer sleepers more options when choosing their mattresses.

Urethane foam mattresses comfortably conform to the body. However, some of the lighter versions will break down very quickly making them lumpy and uncomfortable.

The most popular foam mattresses today are memory foam (visco-elastic), gel and latex..

BELOW IS A CHART to help you see which might be right for you.

MEMORY FOAM (visco-elastic)/ GEL

  • + Hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, dust-mite resistant
  • + Very supportive; relieves pressure and enhances deep sleep by reducing pressure points; the resulting comfort reduces nighttime movement by as much as 90%
  • + Conforms precisely to your body, distributes weight, improves circulation by allowing your blood to flow more freely
  • + Foam reacts to body temperature and softens accordingly
  • + You don't sink through a high-density visco-elastic mattress, nor do you risk bottoming out
  • + No sagging
  • + Foam dampens shock; absorbs motion
  • + Your moves don't affect sleeping partner
  • + No need to flip
  • + No arm/leg falling asleep
  • + Lasts 10 to 20 years, depending on quality
  • + Gel foam sleeps cooler
  • - Too heavy for regular box springs
  • - Too firm in colder environments
  • - Feeling of being gripped by the foam
  • - Some people just don't like the non-traditional feel of a foam mattress

LATEX

  • + Hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, dust-mite resistant; environmentally friendly, more than 90% made from natural rubber
  • + Pushes back for total body support; senses weight for individualized support
  • + Good spinal alignment; improves circulation by allowing your blood to flow more freely
  • + Good air circulation
  • + Good pressure distribution, resulting in less tossing and turning
  • + No sagging
  • + Foam dampens shock; absorbs motion
  • + Your moves don't affect sleeping partner
  • + No need to flip
  • + Can easily move in bed
  • + Lasts 20 to 25 years
  • - Too heavy for regular box springs
  • + Still conforming in colder environments
  • + Ease of movement during regular sleep
  • - Some people just don't like the non-traditional feel of a foam mattress

FOAM + INNERSPRINGS (HYBRID

Today, some manufacturers have blended the best of both worlds. They have created mattresses with an innerspring foundation for support and then placed a layer of memory foam gel over the top. This offers you more choices with respect to firmness and comfort.

FUTONS

These are wonderful options for people who need a sofa by day and a bed by night. Yet, you don't have to sacrifice comfort and support when using this option.

ADJUSTABLE MATTRESSES

If you have a spinal condition, acid reflux or circulation problems, a doctor may recommend an adjustable mattress. Or if your partner prefers a different level of firmness, then an air mattress where air chambers can be adjusted to control support and comfort for each side might be a good choice.

couple sleeping

How much will a new mattress cost?

Generally, a good queen-size innerspring mattress set runs about $699. But prices do vary widely, depending on what you purchase. Although you don't want to overpay, be sure to shop for the highest quality mattress you can afford. Remember, you will be spending 1/3 of your life sleeping on this mattress for many years.

Can I save by not buying box springs and using my old box spring?

Using your old box springs is not a good idea as it will significantly decrease the life of your new mattress. New matching box springs do not add a lot to the cost of your new mattress. Just be sure to look for box springs with steel or reinforced springs. These will last longer and help your mattress to last longer.

man sleeping

What to expect after purchasing your new mattress.

It's completely normal for there to be some body impressions in the first few weeks after purchase.

Mattress Protectors Fight Allergens

Allergies often do not get any better just because you come indoors. Pollen, dust mites, and bacteria can all be found in your home.

We bring them in from outside just by going about our day-to-day activities.

Pollen clings to our clothes. Then we sit down on our sofa and the pollen transfers there. Or we sit down on our mattress to take off our shoes. 85% of dirt and dust mites are brought into our homes from the bottom of our shoes!

Dust mites are tiny microscopic relatives of the spider that can be found by the millions on mattresses, bedding, and upholstery.

They feed on the dead flakes of human skin we shed every day.

Dust mites excrete about 20 droppings a day, which is a main cause of allergies. Your mattress doubles in weight after 10 years due to dust mites.

Millions of people are allergic to them.

Cleaning your home regularly helps, but it's impossible to eliminate all of them.

Your mattress and bedding absorbs dust mites, pollen, and bacteria AND THEN you spend 8 hours every day in bed!

No wonder you are sneezing and your eyes are watering!

To help minimize these sneeze-producing allergens, try the following:

  • Purchase a high quality mattress protector that provides a barrier against dust mites, bacteria, mildew, pollen, etc. It will also provide waterproof protection against sweat stains and spills.
  • Be sure to protect your pillow, too, with an anti-allergen cover.
  • If your mattress is more than 8 years old, it is time to replace it.
  • Wash linen weekly with hot water. A temperature of 140F can kill up to 100% of dust mites and remove almost all pet dander and pollen.
  • A quick shower before bed will rinse off pollen that can cling to your skin and get into your bedding.
  • Keep a clean home free of clutter and dust.
  • Dust mites do not like dry air. Use a stand-alone, single room dehumidifier.
  • Vacuum weekly with a HEPA filter or a central vacuum.
  • Wipe surfaces weekly with a damp rag.

With clean and protected bedding, you will sleep more snugly.

Do you need a new pillow?

The pillow you sleep on every night is a magnet for allergens - think fungal spores and dust mite droppings.

And they're right next to your head! Over time, this can worsen allergies or asthma.

It might even compromise your immune system.

Pillows represent 20% of your overall alignment. If your pillow has become lumpy, it can negatively change your postural alignment while sleeping, which will decrease the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Pillows you use nightly should be replaced every year!

Listen to the Better Sleep Council:

Just as your bed should provide good support for your body, your pillow should give you the right cushioning to position your head and neck properly. It should hold your head in the same relation to your shoulders and spine as if you were standing with correct upright posture. If you sleep on your side, you may want a fairly firm pillow to give your head and neck extra support. If you sleep on your back, try a medium-firm pillow to cradle your head with more "give." And if you sleep on your stomach (although some physicians caution against this position), choose a soft pillow to lessen the strain on your neck.

Although it is a good rule of thumb to replace your nightly pillows once a year, some wear out faster. If you're not sure, consider the following:

  • Fold your pillow in half (or thirds for larger pillows), squeeze out the air, and release. Does it spring back easily?
  • Does the pillow feel differently from when it was purchased?
  • Does the pillow look soiled?
  • Is the pillow lumpy and bumpy?

Just one negative indicator above means you need a new pillow!

Down & Feather Pillows

Down and feather pillows are the most comfortable pillows available. Though they cost more, many people consider the price more than offset by the increased comfort. Besides heavenly softness, these pillows can easily mold into almost any shape you want! Much more so than a foam or fiber pillow.

In the past, many people found down and feather pillows to be allergens themselves. But, today, you can find hypoallergenic down and feather pillows.

If you desire a pillow that is:

  • Very Soft ... choose 100% Down
  • Soft with Some Firmness ... choose Feathers Blended with Down
  • Less Soft with More Firmness ... choose 100% Feathers

By the way, if you didn't know, down feathers are the very soft feathers of a bird that are found under the tougher exterior feathers.

Pillow covers should be tightly woven to prevent the points of the feathers from coming through the fabric and poking you. Look for a thread count of 230 or more.

Also look for double-needle sewn construction, which prevents feather leakage and makes for a more durable pillow.

Latex has superior comfort & conformability.

Visco foam is a enrgy absorbing and a tension relieving material.

Gel-Fiber fill has a traditional feel with new cooling technology.

Be sure to follow label instructions for cleaning (most pillows can be washed) and fluffing.

They're back!

Bedbugs were pretty much eradicated in the developed world by the 1940s. But by the mid-nineties, they have made a comeback. Big time. Known scientifically as Cimicidae (Cimex lectularius), bedbugs are small insects that live on the blood of warm-blooded creatures.

They especially like humans. They prefer to hang out in houses and are most commonly found in beds, hence the name. They are active during the day, but are more active at night. They are able to feed on their hosts without their hosts realizing what's going on. With mosquitoes you know when you are being fed on, not so with bedbugs!

If you notice a bedbug infestation, look for the following symptoms: a skin rash or an allergic reaction. You may also suffer some psychological consequences.

Bedbugs can be easily seen with the eye. They are reddish-brown and about a quarter of an inch long and oval in shape.

Cause

Infestations are caused in numerous ways:

  • bugs and eggs are carried in by clothing and luggage
  • other infested items are carried in (furniture, clothes)
  • a nearby building has an infestation
  • animals, both wild and domestic, bring them in

Location

Bedbugs can often be found one at a time, but, once established, they often like to hang out together. They also like to stay close to their hosts, meaning near beds and couches. Nesting spots can be anywhere, like bedside clutter, furniture, cars, trucks, luggage, etc. Sometimes they nest near animals that have nested withing a building - think bats, birds, and rodents.

If you think you have a bedbug problem...

Immediately check your home for insects. You need to thoroughly examine crevices in walls, mattresses, and furniture. Sometimes it's best to do your inspection at night when bedbugs are active.

Look for the following:

Dark Specks - Especially look for dark specks along mattress seams. These are bedbug excrement.

Empty Light Brown Exoskeletons - Before becoming adults, bedbugs molt five times.

Blood Spots - Small spots of blood on your sheets could be where you rolled over and crushed an engorged bedbug.

How to prevent carrying bedbugs home from a trip ...

Bedbugs are becoming a scourge throughout the nation. If you get an infestation in your home, you will have to exterminate them in your mattresses and in all of your furniture and inside your walls as well.

Currently there are three products to keep you from packing up bed bugs and carrying them home.

  • An encasement so to seal your luggage and keep bedbugs out.
  • A liquid you can spray on your suitcase.
  • A heater to stick inside your luggage.

Heat is actually one of the best ways to prevent bedbug infestation.

As soon as you get back home, keep your suitcase on the porch or in the garage. Unpack all clothes clean and dirty and immediately put them in the dryer for 30 minutes.

Of course, while you are in the hotel, look at the mattress for any residue. Remember, the dark specks in the seams.