Wednesday, 14 November 2007 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Without a good night's sleep, many of us can't function. Comfort is vital to getting a satisfying slumber, and though a mattress might seem like a simple purchase, it can very frustrating. We went in search of clarity and comfort.

The Basics

  • Unfortunately, even if it’s essentially the same mattress, the names, fabrics, and stitching differ from store to store, so it’s difficult to compare prices.

  • The coils’ main job is to help distribute weight on the bed and provide support. However, the number of coils in a mattress shouldn’t be your sole decision factor. As a general rule 390 coils is a good place to start.

  • In addition to the number of coils, consider:

    • Shape of the wire.

    • Gauge of the wire.

    • Shape of the coil.

    • How the coils are attached to each other.

    • The shape of the coils also makes a difference to the feel of the mattress:

    • Hourglass shaped coils are not as durable. Over time they compress and the mattress becomes firmer.

    • Continuous coils offer more support and can be a good choice for someone heavier.

    • Pocket coils move independently, which can be a good thing for couples.

    • Different types of padding can really make a difference. Our expert says the padding is the most important part of the mattress.

  • A sagging mattress is usually due to the padding, not the coils, so a more comfortable, long-lasting mattress will have thicker, higher-quality padding.

  • Many retailers offer a 60 to 90-day trial policy. This is very important if you find your mattress uncomfortable after you’ve tried it for a while. We recommend you insist on this policy. Don’t shop at stores without it.

Other Considerations

  • Most retailers should be able to show you a cross section of the mattress so you can carefully inspect its construction.

  • Don’t trust manufacturers’ labels for firmness and softness ratings because they vary from one manufacturer to another. The best way to get a feel for a specific mattress is to lie down and test it out for at least 10 minutes in a variety of different positions. If you have a sleeping partner, test it together.

  • The box spring is the foundation of your bed and significantly increases the life of your mattress. Corner guards on a box spring protect the fabric and keep it from chafing.

  • Today’s mattresses should last about 10 years.

  • There are now “no-flip” mattresses available on the market where the mattress itself is only padded on one side. You should still rotate it from top to bottom (switch your head are to your feet area) to ensure even wear.

Be Aware

  • If a salesperson seems to be pushing a particular brand, be wary. From time to time, manufacturers offer financial incentives to salespeople. Ensure you try out several models across several different brands.


This is definitely a product where you have to be the judge. Take your time and give each mattress a test nap. Also look for store with a good return policy.


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