December 23, 2016 - Marshall Coyle

BETTER MATTRESS CHOICES FOR 2017

You may be reading this because you have already discovered how it difficult it is to intelligently shop for a new mattress. If you find the shopping process uncomfortable, unpleasant, or irrational whether shopping in person, or navigating the Internet, you have a lot of company. My goal is to provide you with usable information that identifies specific mattresses that merit looking into, and others that you should avoid. As important The most detail is available in the opening essay, Mattress 103 that goes into greater detail than this essay. The easiest way to be assured that you will get a high quality mattress within most budgets is to take the survey and let me go “Virtually Shopping” for you. Just don’t wait until you need a mattress “yesterday”. It is a process that takes time for me to do properly. When I learn your “wants and your “needs”  from  information you supply in the survey, and compare both, as well as your budget, with mattresses on up to twelve websites, you will almost certainly find out about your best choices. But sometimes surveys come in bunches, especially around traditional sale times, making it  difficult for me to do everyone who asks for “rush” shopping.  Please don’t wait for the last minute.

Where you buy your mattress can be just as important as what mattress you buy. Mattress warranty service, such as it is, is the responsibility of the retailer. When/if your beautiful two-year-old Sealy Posturepedic develops depressions matching your body shape, it is the responsibility of the store that sold it to you to pay a service to send a “technician” to your home to measure the depth of the “divots”. If he or she finds that the “body impressions” are deeper than 1.5 inches for most brands, you will probably be entitled to a new mattress free or at a discounted price. Because the retailer also has to pay for two-way trucking and do reams of paperwork, you are often up against months of foot dragging while the store hopes you’ll get tired of waiting and just “go away”.

Department stores like Macy’s tend to be genuinely interested in maintaining their reputations and provide the kind of service you would like to see. Bloomingdales gives exceptional service. Consumer Reports does annual surveys about store’s helpfulness and service. Unsurprisingly retail specialty sleep shops, especially large chains are rated very poorly. At the very bottom of the pile are Mattress Firm and Sleepys. If you plan on buying a Tempurpedic foam product you are much better off buying it directly on their website or from a factory operated store. Tempur memory foams, as do most memory foams, tend to need service early and often and Tempurpedic lives up to warranty promises. Probably the worst possible place to order a mattress on the internet is from a “discount” website promising discounts on name brands.  Discounters promise to deliver the same mattress you tried in a local bricks and mortar store. They can usually deliver the same brand, but can not deliver the same mattress because they can’t get them from the factory.  The big names protect the legitimate retailers by giving by giving different merchandise to Internet discounters with fewer features.  They may last the same four or five years but they will not feel like the mattress you liked at a store near your home.

Almost always the best place to buy a mattress is from a good factory direct seller.  Mcroskey Mattress for people who shop in San Francisco, http://mcroskey.com/mattress-natural.shtml  McCroskey mattresses are old fashioned and that is not a bad thing in this case.  Charles P. Rogers in New York City and NNJ. makers of the Powercore top rated innersprings. they ship and deliver worldwide ,http://www.charlesprogers.com/ to name a couple. I really like the better mattresses from Marshall Mattress in Toronto, but they are no longer factory direct so the prices are retail. You can buy their products all over Canada including the factory store, but the prices are fixed retail regardless of the location.http://marshallmattress.com/  I know that I have left out a number of fine old mattress makers still operating around the country, but I have either never visited them, or have not done so for too many years.  I like to have confidence in any recommendation that I give to a reader and I have seen too many mattress makers change with a new generation taking over, or for any reason. A common denominator is that all three of these top quality firms are mattress makers, not mattress assemblers.  While their specifications differ, these three venerable companies make most of their important components right in house, including the coils, and then assemble and finish the mattress.  Mattress assemblers of which there are many, buy off-the-shelf components from various importers, jobbers, and coil makers, and assemble mattresses.  They do not have access to proprietary coils and other technology needed to make the best.  Nevertheless, when a mattress assembler buys the best quality coils, off the shelf, from the L&P company, main supplier to the industry, and carefully assemble and upholster with naturally cool latex, not petrochemical synthetic memory foam, you can get a decent mattress at prices much lower than your local retail store. http://beddingcomponents.com/  If you visit this site, the Quantum edge 344 is the best coil and the one you should look for if you go to a local assembler that assembles mattresses from off-the-shelf components.  You should not settle because the cost to the maker is not that much more than any of the cheaper coils.

I promise you that if you can stay with this short article and also read Mattress 103, you will be a match for almost any salesperson.   After you finish reading all of Mattress 103 you can send in the survey on the home page and I will personally help you find the most suitable mattress (es) for you. While my first goal is to research and write so well that you gain enough confidence to “take on” the most aggressive commission salesperson in the meanest bait-and-switch sleazy sleep shop, you do not have to. I really will “virtually shop” for you if you fill out a survey. The link is on the home page.

If you still prefer to “do it yourself” but haven’t visited your neighborhood sleep shop or department store in several years, you are in for a visually soothing  experience.  What could be more relaxing than a sea of almost identical brown white and beige large cloth rectangles, side by side, with colorful price tags pinned to them? The relaxation will probably vanish as soon as the salesperson starts talking. The tags always have a crossed-out very high price on top and various crossed out lower prices descending to the bottom of the label. They don’t just look alike. The same parent companies also make many of them from identical materials on the same assembly line even though only the labels are meaningfully different. Stearns and Foster is a good example. They are a division of Sealy, a division of Tempur–Sealy. S&F, because they were once a really great company, command higher prices while the only internal difference might be the addition of a thin slice of latex. I have been unable to find any name brand mattresses currently made with enough latex padding to make a long-term difference. If you do nothing else to prepare you for your shopping day, you have to read the current Consumer Reports innerspring mattress ratings.  see them here: https://goo.gl/n02Byx

Some stores have a deal “just for you” if you seem to be walking out unconvinced. I have seen salespeople follow customers out into the parking lot lowering the price every few steps. Don’t fall for this ploy. Now that you know you are dealing with haggler, give a counter offer. When a store has flexible prices you will probably never see the bottom price. The house really always wins. The less you pay, the smaller is the salesperson’s commission check. The smartest thing you can do when you hear “deal” is to go to a different and more ethical store. Most sleep shops haggle, furniture stores, occasionally do, and department stores almost never. Factory direct showrooms almost always forbid their employees to haggle.

Most retail-store mattresses all look pretty much alike regardless of brand name because they are all pretty much alike. Even the sales people that you meet during your days of exhausting shopping start to seem like twins separated at birth. Only two companies with many different labels make nearly 80% of all American big-brand mattresses. One company, Tempur-Sealy makes TempurPedic, Sealy, Posturepedic, and Stearns and Foster. http://www.tempursealy.com/ The other half of the duopoly makes Serta (Perfect Sleeper & iComfort) https://www.serta.com/shop/mattresses?category=icomfort&type=memory-foam-hybrid  and Simmons (Beautyrest and BeautySleep). http://www.beautyrest.com/Black/Tatiana-Ultra-Plush-Pillow-Top#CutawayInfographic This “Black” Beautyrest has a layer of latex under and over the synthetics.  And both of these super-sized mattress makers gain most of their profits by filling mattresses with low-cost petrochemical synthetic foams. Tempur-Sealy, with one exception is 100% synthetic. The others are mostly synthetic foams and steel coils. Natural latex foam from rubber tree sap is rarely present in mass-produced mattresses. Some Stearns and Foster styles, and selected Beautyrest Black mattresses, at prices few are prepared to pay, actually have a thin layer of latex over and/or under the synthetics. Good naturally cool latex padding with no synthetic foam is still available but almost exclusively from small factory direct resources. These factory direct companies include Charles P. Rogers and Berkeley Ergonomics.

Major mattress makers and many retailers deliberately make the buying process more difficult. While every store has the same mattresses, no two stores share the same label. That is why mattress names seem so stupid. Label designers simply seem to use any phrase that comes to mind. I have a Macy ad in my paper recycling pile and one of the Serta mattresses is called “Comfort Island Retreat 2” This maddening way of doing business has given rise to a new Internet-only assemblage of hundreds of newby mattress peddlers. These novices can go into business for the price of a 20’ shipping container of mystery-foam mattresses from China, a simple website, and public warehouse space. The Internet is free for all and without any real policing. A true “let the buyer beware” scenario.  A typical Chinese queen-size synthetic foam mattress, with or without coils, arrives on the docks in Port Angeles, Cal., crushed, rolled and boxed, for less than $100. These newbies then ask you to pay between about $500 and $1,000 for an 80# bag of questionable quality petrochemical foams. It is profitable even if or when most buyers seek refunds.

If you want one of these imported mattresses, identical vacuum packed, rolled and boxed mattresses are available from Amazon ranging from only about $100-200, and possibly with better service. During frequent sales, Macy’s has started to offer a boxed “Sleep Trends Ana” with coils for $249 +$9.95 delivery + undisclosed possible surcharges.   Here is a sample page from Amazon showing a number of mattresses that may be no worse than any of the higher priced Internet-only bags of foam that sell for $500 to $1000. I am NOT recommending any of them, but if this is what you want or meets your budget, there is no point in overpaying. Do not be fooled by the five star ratings. They are not credible.  Do as I do when shopping almost anything on Amazon.  Read the one and two star ratings. They are never phony or paid for.  https://goo.gl/KsGzYy

Three companies pioneered this Internet-only synthetic foam business. Tuft and Needle (the best value of this group), higher priced Casper, and Leesa (the least uncomfortable of this group according to my correspondents) pioneered this type of selling and appear to have found success manufacturing domestically using CertiPUR approved synthetics. My correspondents tell me that all three have good or excellent service. If you spend enough time on the Amazon site comparing cheap foam mattresses, you will come across mattresses that are identical or virtually identical to the high priced newbies.  No matter how cheap or tempting an innerspring crushed and rolled into a box might be, avoid the temptation. No one has yet figured out how to keep the springs from deforming under the pressure.  Amazon is simply not judgmental or even apparently responsible for third-party sellers.

Some Chinese mattresses are shipped to the USA almost but not quite ready to deliver to you. A tiny detail or two finishes the mattress and one of these “details” is adding the made in California, or Arizona white “do not remove” law labels. I can’t provide more detail without violating a confidence, but the stories I have been hearing make a whole lot of sense. I used to be amazed at the low prices for low quality on Amazon, especially when they claim to be made in the USA.   When I learned about this loophole, what you younger readers would call a “hack”, things started to make sense again.  I think that the phrase “let the buyer beware” should have been coined for the mattress industry.  However, it goes back to Roman times, “Caveat Emptor” which shows you that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Phony ratings on Amazon and elsewhere are a whole ‘nother story that you can read about on my website. I painfully learned to pay no attention to these phony five star ratings when I first learned how to shop for almost anything without leaving the comfort of my home. I always trust the one and two star ratings and take the others with the proverbial grain of salt.

Believing claims that a transaction is “Risk Free on a website can be just the opposite when you buy a boxed mattress from anyone.  The entire transaction is far from risk-free unless you are below thirty or maybe thirty-five years old, and if you are fit and athletic, have a BMI between 22 and 30, and don’t object to sleeping in a new shallow dampish tub melted into the plastic foam by your body heat starting as soon as you lie down.   If you are young and fit, and you can get used to any warmth and odor, you still might have a problem knowing that you are inhaling noxious VOCs that are unavoidable with memory foams. These outgassing chemical molecules are strongly suspected of being carcinogenic and mutagenic as well as a known an asthma irritant.  If you take a chance you are not likely to become ill from such a short exposure, but if or when you want a refund, you will find out how easy, “easy returns” often are just the opposite.  If you have an Amex card, it is wise to use it because American Express almost always takes the customer’s side in refund disputes. Bank Cards vary considerably.

If this reality check has not discouraged you, and you are youthful, neither obese nor boney, you still do not have to overpay for similar and identical mattresses if you buy from Amazon or Macy’s (sale time only). Amazon has a rotating selection from overseas that are very fairly priced for what they are. Some are shipped with a seam open or some other minor finishing detail. A local factory, usually in California or Arizona, closes the seam and attaches a made in USA label, as is the custom. Apparently completely legal! Amazon sells well-sewn 80# + or- bags of synthetic foam for $100-$300 without a lot of hoopla.

Saatva, https://goo.gl/hL6fTH better known for innersprings, charges a little more for their American made synthetic foam mattress than does Casper and competition, but they have a fancier website and deliver their Loom and Leaf petrochemical foam mattress in the natural uncrushed “inflated” state. It costs them more to ship. I also believe that Saatva’s foam, unlike many others, is also made in America, but while neither better nor worse than most, it s expensive because someone has to pay for Saatva’s national advertising. And “If it costs more, it must be better” marketing philosophy. Most Internet-only mattress sellers promise that their synthetic foam mattress is comfortable for anyone and everyone, One Size Fits All–If you believe this and buy from the internet-only sellers, until/unless you find that you were fooled, you also no longer have to go out in the world and actually shop in a mattress store. Thousands of people have found the “no physical shopping” argument very compelling and are now trying to figure out how to start over again even if they lose their $700 because they can’t figure out how to return the inflated foam.   You even get up to four months home trial to get used to the warmth and odors. These extras are possibly worth something to anyone who doesn’t know how easy it is to get shopping assistance from this little old bed guy.

My mission is to make it easier for you to be able to shop confidently. I apologize for the length of these essays. Because of arthritis I can no longer type. I dictate, and talking is easy and relatively speedy. So brevity is the victim. If you stick with it, you will know more than most “Sale professionals”. I really believe that knowledge is power.

Mattresses are a “blind item”. They all more-or-less look alike. A major visual-only difference is the so-called pillow top mattresses. A pillow top on a mattress exists only to make the mattress appear to be more costly than it really is. Pillow top mattresses can be hard, soft, medium, or anything in between, but they are most often filled with soft materials. Soft fibrous materials like silk, wool, and cotton, crush down quickly and depressions result. There are no rules or standards.  A pillow top on a mattress really is only a few minutes of strictly decorative sewing when the external cover is being assembled. The sewer, using dark thread for contrast, skillfully creates the appearance of a separate pillow. The actual surface feel of the mattress is completely dependent upon what padding is inside directly under the covering.  Ironically, this “trick” rarely fails to work when a skilled commission salesperson “demonstrates the value” to uninformed shoppers.

All two of these mammoth companies buy many of their components from mattress ticking to innerspring coils ready-to-assemble from the Leggett and Platt Company, a giant publicly owned business that reaches back to the nineteenth century, with factories in China and strategically around the USA.  Prior to the mid-nineties, mattress companies made most of their components in-house.  The impetus for the major change was as usual, money. A revolving door of new owner/investors sold off cheaply acquired manufacturing assets such as multi-million dollar coil winding machines as a means of getting instant cash returns on their investment. The eager buyers were newly minted Chinese mattress makers catering to China’s emerging middle class, at first. Chinese government cheap loans made everything seem to work. Actually, it did for the rapidly growing Chinese mattress industry that now sends a stream of containers of compressed mattresses across the Pacific ready for too-trusting Internet shoppers

Good values and good mattresses can easily be found made in the USA, but our country is being flooded with big bags of dubious foam and misrepresented innersprings. I have no reliable information from Canadian ports but I know that both Keetsa and Zinni Mattress sell imports. If the only issues were comfort and durability this would not be such a big deal. Your health can be at risk. China has no laws that control what goes into and what comes out of the foam as Volatile Outgassing Compounds (VOC’s) in mattresses. I am not by nature a suspicious person, but this advice now inures to your benefit. I do my best to recommend only genuine quality mattresses when you take the survey and ask me to “virtually shop” for you. Familiar brand names are no guarantee at all because they can be so easily counterfeited.

American manufacturers that sold off their coil winding machinery to China in the nineties now have to buy coils from importers and domestic coil makers at much higher cost than they used to cost when making them in-house. One solution, a very bad one for consumers, and a very profitable one for the manufacturers, has been the proliferation of mattresses made without any steel coil support systems. So-called foam hybrids with a foam support core are really bad.  In my experience, all of the best mattresses are those made with innerspring support cores. The best of these innerspring units are those that are generally described as “independent pocketed coil”. The cheapest springs, so-called “Bonnell” springs can be found in Saatva “Luxury Innerspring” mattresses in a complicated sandwich that includes a layer of better coils and various pads, but no latex.

While coil springs can be found in all price ranges, better coils make better mattresses.  All of the major brands now have one or more lines that have only mysterious chemical based synthetic foams, both in the softer foam top layer, and the firmer foam in the core. These mattresses can feel pretty good during a fifteen-minute test in a store, but fail miserably in the short and medium term at home. Few survive for the long term. One common denominator that links the majority of all mass-produced mattresses is the ubiquitous upholstery material “memory foam”.   I can give you many reasons not to buy any mattress made with memory foam, but I promised you a minimum of negatives, and I want to save something for a thorough article just about memory foam.

When you walk into a showroom with a sea of identical- appearing white or beige or brown cloth rectangles, mattresses often so thick that you need a stepstool to test them, you are usually at the tender mercies of a commission salesperson.  Your salesperson may be a nice person to his friends and family, and probably is. However, the “Golden Rule” stops at the door. It morphs into something like “ Sell or Starve”, because no sale=no pay. The commission dollars are often much higher on higher profit items. These “push” brands are frequently completely unknown off-brands. None of this promotes a consumer-friendly environment. Your best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to gain a little knowledge before you set out to shop.

All of the previous comments are based on shopping at a bricks and mortar store.  Shopping well on the Internet requires even higher levels of mattress education.   You can acquire mattress-shopping expertise fairly well by spending time on the Old Bed Guy as well elsewhere such as really credible Consumer Reports, and credible-seeming Sleep Like the Dead and The Mattress Underground. More important detail on this topic at: https://goo.gl/v3994i.   Sadly, the rest of the Internet seems to offer you only websites linked directly or indirectly to mattress makers and sellers. These classic pay-to-play advice sites are looking out for their clients and looking for their monthly check. If you are trying to be methodical and thorough you can’t pass up the link above.

A guaranteed way for you to easily and safely get more and pay less is by buying at factory direct prices and thereby eliminating the typical 100% retailer’s markup. Retailers, in order to meet their costs of doing business and possibly make a profit, double the factory price. Markup is the difference between what the factory charges and the price on the big price tag. Profit is what might be left over after all occupancy, advertising, salaries, commissions, warehousing, record keeping, sidewalk sweeping, etc. Retail stores are having a hard time these days because of the power of the Internet to sell everything and anything.

 If you get better quality and better prices dealing directly with the maker as I claim, you can ask yourself, what’s the catch? That depends on so many possibilities, easy for me to spot, not so easy for you.  The catch is really different with different individual shoppers more than with different mattress sellers.   Older people who are not very comfortable using a computer and often resistant to change, tend to prefer the convenience and familiarity of shopping in a local bricks and mortar store. Their children and grandchildren often with little or no memory of what life was like before the Internet find buying a mattress on the Internet a useful convenience.

When you buy locally you almost always have to shop in what I call the “mattress maze”. No matter how many stores you visit you will find that making a decision only gets more and more difficult. Even if you write down all the “cutesy” mattress names, and not forget to write down the pre-haggling price, after only two stores it usually becomes a blur when you try to recall the “feel” of even one mattress that you liked.  Making it even more difficult for you are the salespeople, now called retail sales associates (RSA’s), who will tell you anything that they think they have to tell you to get you to buy. Truth in mattress stores is at least as unchallenged as truth in politics. “Truthiness” is in.

Mattress shopping on the Internet is now dominated by what I unflatteringly call snake-oil peddlers. A direct reference to the 19th century traveling medicine shows that served as small town entertainment, and a source of alcohol filled medicine bottles for shoppers who “never” drink alcohol. Many of these patent medicines also contained cocaine making them even more attractive for a dollar or two. Coca Cola had both substances back when they first started.  In 2017 modern day snake oil mattress peddlers are delivering amazingly small cartons from which standard size mattresses can be retrieved needing only a sharp knife to start the process. These vacuum packed mattresses have had all the gases squeezed out before they start the journey from China or near your home. The domestic one’s may likely have locally made chemical foams that have passed the stringent CertiPur laboratory tests. Your tender lungs almost the only tests for the imported petrochemical foams. When the foam re-inflates over the next day or two, the noxious molecules start outgassing again. Chemical memory foam or all-synthetic latex (a Casper exclusive) is not biodegradable as is foamed latex. The outgassing will continue for centuries in a landfill somewhere. The gas doesn’t stick around down here. It escapes to the upper atmosphere where it increases global warming. Synthetic foam, a product that has only existed for about fifty years has done a lot of damage to the planet as well as to many “good nights”.

Casper Mattress marketers recognized everything negative I have written here about retail store shopping and set out to make a mattress to advertise as “comfortable for all” (even if it isn’t), could be inexpensively shipped or delivered anywhere in the country, and could be sold so incredibly profitably that they really didn’t even really want the mattresses that failed the comfort trial to have to be returned. When you have a ready-to-deliver cost of $100 and sell something for $800, you do not have to sell very many to pay the rent. There is NO way to actually return the mattresses 99% of the time. The same goes for all of Casper’s hundreds of new competitors.  When I find the time, I intend to write an essay about this particular misrepresentation peculiar to the new boxed foam mattress business.

It was a wonderful business idea for the first few like Casper, Leesa, and Tuft and Needle. By now the market is overloaded with hundreds of similar websites with ever-wilder claims competing as hard as they can. But there is only enough for the pioneers and it is easy for me to imagine thousands of people waiting for refunds that will never come from the newby company they bought from.

The best way I know of for you to get your money’s worth, is to find a suitable mattress directly from a well-established manufacturer that sells directly to the consumer at factory direct prices. When you send in a survey, and I go virtually shopping for you, my focus is directed to the factory-direct shops that I trust. Some factory-direct shops have informative web sites and some deliver almost anywhere. The strong US dollar that makes imports so expensive in Canada is not so strong that Canadians should settle for overpriced Canadian mattresses. When you can avoid paying retail, a final price that is almost always 2X or more than the factory price, your savings are real and large. I list some exceptional factory direct sources in various essays on this blog.

When I was in business, I was involved and worked many states and regions, but that was almost 20 years ago. Today, my breadth and depth of knowledge as far as what mattress are made, and how they are made, in the Greater New York area is up to date and encyclopedic. Every major maker has a nearby plant and while New York has relatively few mattress makers, New Jersey has plenty.

When I virtually shop for anyone that indicates on the survey that they must see before they buy, and do not live in the NYC area, when their budget is up to it, I recommend a very small range of Aireloom mattresses and one Simmons Beautyrest from Macy’s. In some cities with a Bloomingdales and no Macy’s the mattresses may be available from Bloomingdales. The specific Beautyrest Black Lillian is the best Beautyrest that I know of from in-store testing and some internet searching. There are hundreds of Beautyrest names, and if the name is different, you will probably will not get the latex, or the extra few years of wear. Seven or eight years is always better than the four or five that is more commonplace. Budgets only go half as far at a retail store.

Another reason to be wary is the flat out misrepresentation that is present in most of the numerous new internet-only websites such as Casper, Saatva, Tuft and Needle, Leesa, and Yogafoam (and about 300 more). An expert examination of quality and content claims often discloses no or little connection with the truth. These sites pander to the most cautious of shoppers with extravagant “free” trials and other apparently consumer friendly policies, and when they have the money left to carry through with the promises usually do. I have too little information on Yogafoam, but the other three mentioned above give excellent service. My issue is less with the service than the problematic mattress-like bags of crushed foams that they foist on the unwary.   If something is too good to be true, it isn’t.

The only “truth” is that almost everyone who publicly judges mattresses on the web has some kind of financial agenda that pre-determines the outcome. Claims of comfort or durability are always subjective and since they are not provable can not be called true.

Claims of value can only be slightly more objective, and then, only if they could compare two identical mattresses offered at different prices. Consumer Reports, the only consumer oriented and supported magazine, has made legitimate efforts from time to time. The quality of their advice varies, but you often can get very good guidance. Where CR, in my opinion, is completely wrong is in their advice to always haggle. This is rarely possible or necessary when buying from Internet or factory direct merchants. I have tried to comprehend why they do so and have come to a conclusion that it is geography. They are physically located just north of NYC and tend to buy all of their test products from local stores.

Where you buy your mattress is as or more important than what you buy. It is so difficult to know what you are getting into. Spending half an hour lying down in a store with a salesperson at your feet, does not guarantee that when the mattress gets to your bedroom, it will be identical to the sample, and/or still feel comfortable to you. Generally speaking, you are far better off in a department store than a sleep shop. When or if you need a replacement for a sagging foam mattress, you don’t want to be ripped off and abused on the cost of the exchange, you want a comfortable mattress at an affordable price. Family owned and operated factory direct stores tend to be the best for value and service. Ikea, Sam’s, Costco, and other big box stores can often have bargains, but sometimes with questionable or incompetent after delivery service. Internet mattress sellers are all over the place ranging from ultimate integrity for one 162 year old NYC factory-direct with mattresses that Consumer Reports highly recommends, to 300 (or more) overnight-wonder startups on the Internet that bring in a container of Chinese foam mattresses and then disappear.

Americans prefer to sleep on innerspring mattresses. With the recent introduction of the hybrid innerspring at affordable prices, the popularity of innerspring support is now at an all time high. Many mattress makers offer less functional ” foam hybrids”  that rely on various combinations of synthetic foams and no innerspring. Foam are or can usually be excellent when used as padding or cushioning, but fails  miserable when called on to feel springy. You would not like riding in a car with springs made of foam instead of steel.

Some foam returns rapidly to its original shape when pressure is released, but these are not “memory” foams. You have seen the TV commercials with a hand pressed into foam showing how slowly memory foam returns to original shape. This slow-return foam is the opposite of what is needed for proper support. As the night drags on, a sleeping person sinks deeper and deeper and the foam gets harder and harder. It does not take long to question why something that felt so good in a quick trial in the store, can feel so much like wet warm hard sand after a few hours.

Nevertheless, because all synthetic petroleum or natural-gas based foam costs mattress makers so much less  than steel springs, many manufacturers, seeking the last dime of profit, misrepresents these spring-free mattresses as hybrids.  Only a  little lie in an industry in love with the “big lie”.   By the easy act of calling a layer of firmer foam a “support layer”, a greedy mattress maker can add hundreds of dollars to his profits. The Tempur-Sealy International company, a new company formed when TempurPedic took over a faltering Sealy, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the misleading advertising that has fooled millions of consumers into sleeping on second class spring free  mattresses.

After more than twenty years of propagating this lie, Tempur Sealy has started to produce new Tempur mattresses with steel coils. Tempur Flex is the name, and they feel almost like real innerspring hybrid mattresses. Much too expensive.   Tempur-Sealy International and their captive Stearns and Foster produce almost 40% of all North American mattresses.   A downsizing and combining of facilities is causing the end of employment for many  traditionally trained executives.  Almost everyone in all three named companies is busy learning a new task.  If this was for the benefit of the consumer, it would be a good thing.  But it is not.  Consumer complaints about these brands are at an all time high.

This changeover to innerspring from all foam  for Tempur could not have come at a better time for Tempur-Sealy as it might cushion the blow that can happen as a result of an “its about time” class action lawsuit calling for them to account for chemicals used in the manufacture of their Tempur memory foam. The plaintiffs claim that Tempur has known for a long time how potentially harmful the chemicals that emerge from their mattresses into people’s lungs are known to be. Some of the details can be heard in this CBS News report:
http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/04/30/i-team-consumers-believe-mattresses-made-them-sick/

My attitude is that I know of no Tempur/Sealy/Stearns and Foster mattress that I am willing to recommend at this time.   The other major consolidation is a super-sized conglomerate formed when a money fund bought Serta, and provided Serta with the cash to pick up a struggling Simmons.  Simmons seems to be improving, starting with the high priced Black line first.   These two brands have some more forward thinking ideas, and there are several of their products that are good enough for me to recommend when other factors are appropriate.  One major and overwhelmingly important difference between these two giants deals with the synthetic foams that drive their profits.

Serta and Simmons last year announced that starting now, all of the synthetic foams that they will use will be foam that has passed the CertiPur US chemical purity tests. Sealy and Stearns have also belatedly jumped on the bandwagon. Safer? Maybe.  Comfortable? Possibly briefly. Durable?  No. Doesn’t yet mean an absence of VOC’s in their products, but if the foams they use are approved, the amount of outgassing is within arbitrary limits.

I believe that the reason driving Tempur-Sealy to continue using the same foams that have given rise to the current class action suit, is that changing in mid-stream might jeopardize any Tempur-Sealy  legal defense.

The Leggett and Platt company, America’s largest and most respected maker and importer of coil springs commissioned a qualified university to comparison test innerspring vs. synthetic foam mattresses to once and for all put to bed any doubt that innersprings sleep coolest. Scientific test results proved a full 28% cooler. There is  an essay somewhere on the OBG with more details.  The coolest padding available for any mattress is the good old durable and naturally cooler latex foam. When you sleep on a mattress that has a coil core and only natural latex padding, you have the coolest to sleep on mattress of all. Not cool (two ways) is sleeping on most memory foam, and all solid foam in any combination.

Improved innerspring construction such as the Charles P. Rogers Zero-Gravity pressure-free Powercore that Consumer Reports named the best of all innerspring mattresses in 2016, and the Simmons Beautyrest tall twisted-wire coil concept as found in their “Black” Beautyrests, are better than anything since the original pocketed coil was introduced over a hundred years ago.  Some new Sealy Posturepedic mattresses have an innovative “coil in coil” “Joey” core that promises improved comfort. They still have a ways to go to equal the zero pressure Powercore coils invented by Charles P. Rogers only a few years ago.   All of these newly designed coils are an improvement over the basic pocketed coils in use for more than a century.

When you combine a superior spring core, and stratified layers of natural talalay latex, with the lushest layers reserved for the top, you have a mattress almost as good as it gets.    Rogers’ owns the only machines that can do the complicated spring winding and assembling  and are now offering two versions of their Consumer Reports top-rated Estate Powercore with models featuring added layers of their proprietary nano coil. It makes the already heavy mattress a bit heavier, but adds a softer dimension than available with only latex, or latex strong enough to survive the twenty five year life expectancy. 

For the past several years I have been recommending hybrid innerspring/latex mattresses from the factory direct resource, Charles P. Rogers and Consumer Reports unequivocally call them “the best”. I am gratified to see the whole industry move in unison to switch to the hybrid construction. I still favor the Powercore, but the differences have been narrowed. There will still be quality variations, but in general, you, the consumer now have more and better choices for 2017.  Macy’s has been offering a latex hybrid from Aireloom that does not have the price saving afforded by buying factory direct, but for people who prefer to buy locally, the mattresses are better than many others and are  widely distributed.  In this case, your bedroom will be the laboratory and you will be footing the bill. You cannot go wrong, or almost cannot go wrong if you remember that no padding is as good as, or better than, naturally cool latex. The alternative mattresses, the synthetic foam, and pneumatic air bladder, or some combination of all or any of them had made large inroads in innerspring territory, but the wheel has turned. Close to 90% of North Americans still sleep on innerspring mattresses and usually pay much less than for “magic” alternate sleep.

Various synthetic or latex foams without innersprings are a distant second but gaining, and air mattresses are insignificant but do have one strong maker that CR recommends, Sleep Number. I am very negative about Sleep Number because I have grown weary of the plaintive letters about the noise and the trench that rapidly and inevitably forms right in the middle. In addition, Sleep Number mattresses, in my opinion, get virtually any comfort that they offer from the mounds of  soon-to-sag chemical foam heaped on top.  Also, this is not the CertiPur kind of foam. For many years the air bladder mattresses were not much more than thick camper mattress blow-ups. However Sleep Number figured out how to use very small air bladders with thick and cheap foam padding. I never recommend any bed with air bladders or air pumps. Not just because of the noisy noise than annoys nightly, but because they are troublesome and less comfortable than good conventional mattresses.

Adjustable beds are appealing to a lot of aging boomers. Chinese imports have forced electromechanical bed prices down to as low as $500 at retail. Competition is keeping them down for careful shoppers. I do not write about them by name because I do not believe that I have sufficient information at this time about many new ones coming soon to our shores. A major fault with any adjustable bed is that it requires a bendy mattress. I do not know of any bendy hybrid innerspring mattresses worth recommending.   So I don’t ever recommend mattresses for adjustable bases. To make them flexible requires omitting features that also make them durable.  Instead of the 4-5 years useful life you might expect from a new major brand mattress, you can take off a year or two.  Most major mattress makers buy Chinese-sourced adjustable metal bases wholesale from Leggett and Platt and package them with their mattresses. Cost is  about $500 higher than a plain lay-flat foundation, but if you can sleep on your back, the only suitable position when the lights go off, you may like the versatility for reading and watching TV.  If you sleep on your side or stomach, an adjustable is just a frustration. You can achieve the same with a flat bed and some inexpensive wedges.  This is how I deal with the opportunity to spend more time on my new innerspring hybrid.  I can spend an evening sitting up,  with a wedge also under my knees, and work, read, or watch TV, and when lights-off happens, the wedges hit the floor.

You aging boomers have to be careful about your sleeping position. Sleep Apnea, although not contagious, can be very serious and if you have it  your doctor may prescribe side sleeping as well as  wearing a CPAP pressure mask to keep your breathing from dangerous long halts. Before you shell out a ton of money for an adjustable bed, think about buying some foam wedges. Wedges cost next to nothing and  never need servicing. Adjustable beds need a lot. I wonder how it feels to spend thousands on an adjustable bed only to find out that the only available sleeping position is on your back, and your doctor tells you that you will live longer if you sleep on your side.

There have always been a small minority of counter-culture shoppers who choose alternate sleep-systems such as air, or water. They will buy anything that their mother does not approve of.  Synthetic foams such as Tempur memory foam have won over a large and increasing market share thanks to brilliant incredibly costly advertising. Tempur-Pedic has made so much money that when Sealy/Stearns and Foster stumbled and lost 90% of stock value in a matter of weeks. Tempur could take out their checkbook and win Sealy/S&F for chump change. There are now two companies in the USA that are responsible for  assembling 75% to 80% of all mattresses sold in the USA. Tempur/Sealy(S&F) and Serta/Simmons. These major brand labels are busy re-organizing and cutting costly components from their mattresses.

Shoppers are finding it hard  to tell brands apart from the way they are made and look. TempurPedic is actually pushing innerspring after damning it for the last thirty years. Brand name for the mattress is Tempur Flex. The Sealy Posturepedic division is using Beautyrest style pocketed coil innerspring cores, and taking the expensive coil springs completely out of their lower cost-higher profit solid foam  spring-free Posturepedics.

All kinds of new names for chemical foams are coming out. Each one starts out from a few gallons of petroleum or a few thousand cubic feet of natural gas.  Some have added oils from plants with the same chemical characteristics. But do sound more “green”, even if they are not. A common denominator is the overuse of the word “cool” in dozens of mattresses that are upholstered with the inexpensive and warm kind of foam=the memory foam that started off as petroleum and some Dow, DuPont, Cargill, or Monsanto chemicals. Stay tuned.

Luxury-Hotel named mattresses deserve special mention. A few that are made with time-honored pre-war designs but making use of modern materials are extremely good. Check out the Charles P. Rogers St. Regis, another Consumer Report top pick for back sleepers and “best mattress for couples”  and more from other consumer magazines. The St. Regis started off in the 1920’s as a mattress for this one NYC hotel and has morphed into both a mattress for the hospitality industry including luxury Airbnb rentals,  and anyone who wants a very good mattress for their home for an unusually low price.  This is traditional hand made quality that has been in production since before I was born! They seem to last forever, even longer than the ones that made them famous in the thirties when mattresses were expected to last at least fifteen years.   However, the fat and soft readily disposable mattresses sold by major hotel chains are fun for a few months,and then, absence of durability and usable warranties, makes for a “never-again” scenario. I doubt that anyone has ever bought a second mattress from a luxury chain hotel. The hotels that use these special-purpose mattresses  expect to recycle yearly, and at the very  very longest, every two or three years:  you don’t. One year is the oldest mattress you are likely to sleep on in any hotel chain. When you can rent the room out one night at a time for more than $125,ooo a year, you do not give your customer a sagging or dirty mattress. The big mattress brands are happy to oblige with a cheap and comfortable mattress that is as disposable as their towels before any wear is noticed.

I am sorry to sound all negative about the un-natural foams, but there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. At least for the people who have the patience to read through this essay, you will learn that you can find high quality mattress at affordable prices. The power of knowledge can free you up from “let the buyer beware” Coiled wire innerspring units are the heart and core of most the mattresses sold in the United States. More than 90% of all innerspring mattress makers have springs supplied by the Leggett and Platt Company. Many also buy coils imported from Asia and South Africa. These are Bonnell style at the lower prices, and various pocketed coils at higher prices. All L&P springs used on this continent are American made. There are a few smaller spring makers and even smaller importers. Leggett and Platt is a very successful component manufacturer that makes most of the springs, foams and textiles used by the furniture and automotive industry. Over many decades they have bought and absorbed most of their competition. This is the major reason why most brand name mattresses have virtually identical specifications for their insides and outside. They are all assembled from the same parts bins.

Machinery to manufacture quality steel wire coil spring cores is very expensive and requires highly skilled labor. A handful of long-established European mattress makers such as Hastens, Duxiana, VI-Spring, Carpe Diem, and Americans Charles P. Rogers established 1855, in the East, and McCroskey Mattress in the West, established 1899, still prefer make their own wire coils and maintain control over quality and innovation.  Charles P. Rogers, using recently developed computer guided agglomeration machines in their New Jersey workrooms has been able to get very close the holy grail, a mattress that feels luxurious but still provides healthful support to the widest possible body mass types, and according to Consumers testing, still shows no wear in eight simulated years of machine torture. These two characteristics used to be mutually exclusive and have eluded the industry since its beginning. McCroskey with over a century of experience has refined the original wire tied coil on their trusty old machines to function as well as the superannuated design can get. The McCroskey coils are stiffer and not as flexible as the Rogers “Powercore” but so much better than any open-coil spring you may likely find in another  name brand mattress at any price. McCroskey puts soft padding on top of the hard coils and has a loyal following from financially successful Silicon Valley types.  Canadians can buy excellent hybrids from the Marshall Mattress Company in Toronto. I am told that owing to shrinking Canadian dollars many Canadians buy in the USA.

The European luxury imports rely on exotic materials such as hair from butchered horses, raised for meat with the hair as a by-product, more than innovative innersprings, with one outstanding exception. Scandinavian maker, Duxiana makes a very good sleep set that relies more on higher and more flexible coils, and all-latex padding than American big brands. Their beds tend to be very comfortable on the soft side with average durability. The construction of the innerspring unit, the thickness and metallurgy of the coil wire, the manner of tempering the wire, the number and height of the coils, the method of fastening them to each other, and the support built into the edges, can be tailored to provide a far wider range of comforts to mattresses when you make your own. Each mattress maker whether he buys pre-assembled components from L&P or they assemble from scratch, seeks to make a desired “feel” and comfort life. The feel can be manipulated for a desired firmness with little or no cost difference but with major quality differences. The number of years, or sometimes months, that a mattress will provide comfort and support cannot be faked using inexpensive material. Ultimately, the highest quality mattresses will have more coils with more wire in each coil than a pretend-good mattress. These long-life electrically tempered and indurated coils will be wrapped in soft textile pockets and fastened each to the other in a flexible mat that makes the core of the mattress. This mode of construction permits the mattress to have varying firmness in zones that can provide ideal support for any body.  The mattress I sleep on has four or five different strength coils depending on where it is in the mattress. Opinions vary but the consensus believes that proper healthful support requires springs that are soft enough to yield under pressure points and firm enough to support the weight of the occupants without sagging in the middle.

The “Powercore” mentioned above in my opinion is the current pinnacle of spring design and manufacture. Imported from New Jersey. The average Charles P Rogers queen mattress weighs around 140 pounds. The average top-price Sealy or Simmons weighs in at barely more than a hundred pounds. Consumer reports weighed a Sealy Posturepedic and found all of 80#, mostly synthetic foams.  The difference is simply more steel and denser, more durable padding from the 162 year old Rogers. When you buy a $1500 mattress direct from a mattress maker with no middlemen expenses and profits, you are getting $1500 dollars worth of mattress. When you buy the same price mattress from a retailer, you are buying a $700 wholesale mattress and $800 worth of markup and profit for the retailer.    This is the reason why I try to point you towards good factory direct resources.

The exterior of a mattress is made of woven or knitted fibers that form a sack to contain the springs, upholstery filling and insulation. Some knitted covers offer more flexibility than woven covers and can feel demonstrably superior on mattresses with soft surfaces. All woven or knitted covers permit free passage to air helping keep the interior of the mattress dry. Many mattresses have pillow tops, which add the appearance of a layer of soft padding. Appearances can be deceiving.  If a maker, for whatever reason, puts firm foams above the sewing line that makes it look pillowy, you have a firm top mattress.  Mattresses tufted with strings through and through tend to be firmer, but no guarantee that this is always the case.  I have tried a Kluft set that has all the visual cues of being very firm, and it is far from it.

Between the top of the springs and the flame retardant is a layer or layers of resilient padding known as the upholstery, and one layer of an insulating barrier, similar to a rug underlayment,  under the upholstery to keep the padding and the springs separate. The padding can be virtually anything that will provide the cushioning and durability that the mattress designer is trying to achieve. The goal is to make a mattress that will provide years of healthful comfort with only insignificant permanent compression of the upholstery materials. “Divots” appear when the upholstery gets crushed and stays down. High quality foams both ‘warm” synthetic urethanes and naturally cool latex  meet these needs better than traditional vegetable and animal fibers. The perforated foams can also permit slightly more airflow to diminish the feeling of heat that is part of the memory foam sleep experience. The best innerspring/latex hybrids have only the springs and the layers of latex, and possibly added all steel NANO springs,  beside the textile flame barrier. 

Many mattresses at all price ranges are padded with cotton fibers that have been compressed and felted. Historically, long before innersprings were invented there were two choices for an affluent mattress shopper. Cotton felt or animal hair. Hog and cattle hair being short was usually glued or sewn together into pad that was firm but relatively short lived. Horse mane and tail hair, a byproduct of the South American, European, and Asian meat industry, were then and still are used in top end hand, faux-antique, luxury European mattresses.  You don’t have to kill a horse to harvest the hair, but in reality, virtually all upholstery quality horsehair comes from Mongolian and Argentinian horses that were slaughtered for their meat and hair. When you pay thousands or tens of thousands for an ultra-luxury English or European mattress it has the hair of many dead horses as a main ingredient depending on how you feel, you might consider this to be animal cruelty. Whether the horse is slaughtered on an Argentine estancia or the steppes of Mongolia, the hair destined for Europe makes its way to Switzerland where the animal waste is removed, especially from the tail, and the hair is steamed and hand braided which makes it springy and curly with little or no odor. There is no such commerce in the United States but it is legal to use imported horsehair in upholstery and mattresses if it has been sterilized, and some makers still do.  Shifman and Kluft are major users for their retro mattresses.

For 2017 mattresses will continue to be made out of hundreds of kinds of foams and coils (or no coils) and continue to sell at prices that often bear no relationship to the cost to manufacture. New ways to mold chemical foam to have the appearance of a steel coil spring have appeared.  This is just, in my opinion, another new scam.  Fortunately, it is also possible to buy a very good mattress that has only two moving parts, naturally cool latex, and strong supportive comfort coils. Mattresses with the fewest components are usually the best. 

Bed Buying Tips / Bed Value / Bedding / Casper / Estate Powercore / Keetsa / Mattresses / Misc Bed / Old-Bed-Guy / Pin and Needle / Saatva / Sealy / Serta / Sleep Like The Dead / St. Regis / The Mattress Underground

Comments

  • Elizabeth Kannarkat says:

    What do you think about shifman mattresses? Does it worth the money? $5000?

  • John says:

    Marshall
    I am anxiously awaiting the results of your survey, but in the meantime I have a few questions:
    1. The local amish mattress maker currently uses open coil springs. If he is able to get L&P 344 pocketed coils can I expect a reasonably comfortable mattress. What else should I look for in the mattress?
    2. There are several/many suppliers/manufacturers on the internet that claim to use pocketed coils and natural latex foam. Any suggestions of how to select the better vendors? Could you list some other than the 3 you listed that you would consider even though you have not personally tested?

  • Andrea says:

    Dear Mr. Coyle,

    Wanted to thank you so much for recommending the CPR Nano 2 mattress to us (based on the survey we filled out). We’ve been sleeping on it for a week now, and couldn’t be happier. Don’t laugh, but the only real problem with this mattress is that I’m getting up a little later than I used to due to it being so comfortable – it’s making it hard to get out of bed! This is a far cry from just a few weeks ago. Used to wake up in the wee hours with an aching back, then toss and turn trying to find a position to relieve the pain which I never really did. So I’d just give up and get up earlier than I wanted to. But this is no more! We’re both getting a really great night’s rest now, and as Goldilocks might say, our new mattress is not too firm, not too soft – it’s absolutely right! We love it. Thanks so much again. Your advice and this mattress have been life changing. Will let you know in a separate email the animal shelter and amount we donate as a thank you for your sage advice! Hope you and yours are doing well.

  • Ellen Younkins says:

    I realize that you have had health problems and hope that you are doing better. I have read all that I can find that you have written about mattresses. I think my survey may have gotten lost. I sent it a few weeks ago but unfortunately I do not remember the date. I am 82 years old and am presently having some health problems – some that may be caused by the mattress that I am sleeping on. I am tired and frustrated searching and reading about mattresses on various sites. I desperately need a new mattress and would like to purchase one before (as my mother used to say) I go to the happy hunting ground. I was considering purchasing a Charles P. Rogers mattress but am reconsidering after reading complaints that their mattresses are too firm. My other choice might be a Simmons Black mattress which I probably would purchase from my local Macy’s store in Albany NY. I really would appreciate your advice.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Ellen,

      Just for the record, as I mention below, Beautyrest Black comes in a variety of firmnesses and fillings from soft to hard. So does Rogers and most other top quality lines. People rarely complain that they got a too-soft mattress, so the too-firm stands out, but it is untrue. In any case I can only search for your survey using the email address that you sent it in with. Please send me a new email using the same address and I will do a search. The Beautyrest Black comes in a rather wide variety of fillings, only a couple have any latex at all, and the latex used is a token 1/2″. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind sleeping warm on memory and mystery foams, the Black Models all have the best innerspring unit that Simmons sells, and it is a very good, if not the best spring. I did look using this address and didn’t find your survey, but will look again while awaiting your letter to possibly save you some time and worry.

      Marshall

  • Mari a says:

    Do you have any information, recommendations, and / or opinions on Kluft and Shiftman mattresses?

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Mari a, I certainly do have information, recommendations, and/or opinions on Kluft, Shifman, and many other mattresses. Lots of it. If you wish me to share any with you, all you have to do is ask specific questions in the comments box when you take the short mattress survey. Mattresses are not good or bad in a vacuum, they are appropriate or inappropriate for individuals. When you submit a survey you become a “person” to me making it possible for me to relate you to specific mattresses. Please indicate specific mattresses you are interested in and any special needs you or a sleeping companion might have. The survey is available on the home page.
      Marshall Coyle

  • Cassandra Singletary says:

    Hello,Mr Old Bed Guy,
    Thank you so much for your recommendation of the Charles P Rogers Powercore Nano.It is great.I took your survey and we decided to buy this mattress without laying on it.It was very firm at first and I thought this is not going to work.But the lady at the store said give it time.From your survey u knew I needed firm at my body weight and age.I have enjoyed sleeping on this mattress for almost 2 years now and there is no sagging anywhere.I have told all my friends about u and again thank you,thank you.I do hope u are feeling as well as an 87 year old or younger can feel,but I feel fortunate to have gotten your advice.

  • Erin Poskocil says:

    Coil Box Springs

    Some mattresses that are paired with coil box springs (such as Vi-Spring) are also used on platform beds. Do you think that the mattress without the coil box spring will still work?

  • Debbie says:

    Hi, I have never read on your site what you think about buying a floor model. a small mattress company here in town has a discontinued Kluft Royal Sovereign Latex St. Claire LLS King Mattress at a price of $1500. you have said they are good mattresses – just overpriced so wondering if this is something we should consider.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      dear Debbie,
      mattress you mentioned is a very high quality mattress. if it is clean and and never been in a customer’s home, and the show room is clean, it is certainly priced very well. Whether or not the mattresses a good fit for you is something I could only tell if you send in a survey and mentioned the particular opportunity in one of the comment boxes. The Kluft mattress you mention is designed for use on a coil boxspring, and I advise against getting any kind of foundation with it. you may be surprised to find out how much the boxspring costs, and it would be penny wise and pound foolish, not to get it.

      Marshall Coyle

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Debbie,

      yes

      Marshall Coyle

  • Jack says:

    Marshal,
    As you are doing your best to catch up with surveys, I went to the furniture/mattress store of the company that I work for. 25% is nothing to ignore with an investment this important. I took a long 2nd look at the Simmons black series. I am weary of the amount of “memory foams” that they rely upon. The all Latex enviro model was not represented, aand, I was not interested in engaging with sales-pepe.
    WE are anxiously awaiting your response.
    Jack

  • Marshall Coyle says:

    dear Cheryl,

    My opinion is simple. Fill out a survey and send it in. Then I will be able to answer your question. Possibly you may have a suggestion for me how to make it more clear that you have to fill out a survey to get this kind of answer because I have all the front pages. And last and least, please excuse any typographical errors or spelling mess ups as my arthritis is forcing me to use dictation software that I am not very good at yet.

    Marshall Coyle
    V

  • Gloria says:

    Dear Marshall,
    I suffer from fibromyalgia so in general my muscles ache and recently we looked at all possibilities and stores in the bay area and ended up at European Matress in Berkeley which spend a lot if times with us and finally ordered a medium firm Matress that in the first week was great but after that it brought so much pain that I am home sick for a week with Valkyrie pain and painkillers. Even though we can go back and keep on changing mattresses I am really sad and frustrated that the process of finding a comfortable Matress is so shred . I am a side sleeper , any suggestions?

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Gloria,
      The mattress assembler you chose to trust makes a variety of excellent mattresses,one in particular, The Latex II HDM that sells for around $4,000 looks like something I would not mind sleeping on if I had more money than knowledge. It is very similar to what I do sleep on, but costs twice as much and has less latex and steel. Knowledge is useful, and when freely offered and ignored, as you have done by dealing with my only after the fact, the lesson should be clear. People, who unlike you, choose to take my freely offered survey, will, if the mattress fits, be shown mattresses for near half the price, twice the latex and coils with much more comfort life expectancy than you stumbled into on your own. But the fact that you paid too much should cause only a pain in the wallet. It is not their fault that you hurt and there is no mattress in their armory that can do any more than any other.

      I think, but for sure this is not formal advice, You need to have your whole nervous system appropriately scanned with FMRI and MRI and appropriate sonogram technology. I have been going through these tests regularly since I started falling down and hurting myself earlier in the year. I know what muscles and connective tissues and bones have been torn, broken, and bruised. My pain is authentic. Many traditional physicians believe that Fibromyalgia is not physical. From what I read, Fibromyalgia pain is undetectable by any instruments known to modern technology. That is a polite way to tell you that if “European mattress” sold you a mattress with any kind of a promise to ease specifically your fibromyalgia pain, you might consider that to be a scam. Scam is a polite word for dishonesty. There is NO mattress to treat your pain, not even the brand new super duper zero pressure one I am waiting for and bought after a five minute in-store test. No names until I have slept on it at home around New Years. Be careful with the painkillers. They are very addictive and eventually worse than the pain you are taking them for.

  • Barb Cozort says:

    Please tell me the best natural latex Toppers Matttess Toppers Marshall. Pray your much better.
    I do not trust anyone. But you!

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Barb,

      Thank you for your kind words. I was researching toppers before I fell down and everything stopped or paused. Right now, as I am feeling a lot closer to whatever passes for normal at 87, I am trying to whittle down the unanswered surveys and have put topper and other research on hold. The best that I can offer is that you should try to get a covered topper. Or at minimum use a mattress cover and put the uncovered topper under the cover. Latex tears very easily if pulled and people often damage them just unboxing. Less than 2″ is usually too little and more is too much.

      Do not get hung up on the difference of Talalay and Dunlop. The Talalay is better in some ways, but not as important in a topper as it can be in a mattress that depends on latex for all of its padding. It should cost about 20% less. Buy one that has a whole lot of three and four star reviews and you will not go wrong. I can not emphasize too strongly that good mattress (and topper) reviews can be bought and sold, but the smaller number of stars is usually trustworthy.

      Be very aware that no topper is going to help if your mattress has sagged. A topper helps when you have a new mattress that is too hard, or your present mattress is still nice and smooth on top, but you want a softer feeling. No topper can make a mattress firmer or like new. A waste of money. If you buy a high quality topper and find that I was correct and you really need a new mattress, when you send in your survey, mention the topper and I will find you a slightly less costly mattress that can use the topper right from the beginning. ONLY BUY LATEX.

      Marshall Coyle

      Once the mattress has sagged take a flat stick like a ruler and lay it down across the sag leaving a canyon. Then take another small ruler and see how deep the hole is. Most warranties call for “more than 1.5” but they vary. You fix a sagging mattress one way. Replace it. If it is under warranty and sagging more than the warranty calls for, you will get a new one at less than what you paid for your old one, but rarely free. You can write to me if this happens. It is often cheaper to much better to buy a new one that I recommend than to go through the warranty process if you are dealing with some brands.

      If I were you, I would do my comparison shopping on Amazon, nice and slowly. Read the one star owner reviews. The real good reviews are often nothing but phonies.

  • P. Susan Nosko says:

    Dear Mr. Coyle,

    First I want to thank you for being here for all of us — a voice we can TRUST. Thank you for your time and your shared knowledge and experience. You are a HOOT!
    My husband and I were wondering if you received my survey and had a chance to review it? I sent it over two weeks ago as a RUSH?
    My husband has major back issues and is sleeping on what used to be my side of the bed (since his side of our $6000 Tempurpedic deteriorated) and I’m sleeping in our daughter’s room on an air mattress. (This is our second Tempurpedic in four years — both California Kings have deteriorated on my husband’s side of the bed.)
    I know what it’s like not to feel great and I don’t mean to be pushy; I just want to know if you received it.
    Thank you again so much! — Charlotte, North Carolina

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Pistol Patty,
      I would really like to help you, not just you, but all of the people who have been asking and kept waiting. In reality, for whatever mysterious reasons, incoming requests have grown from a four or five a day to sometimes a hundred or more. I realize that I am a one-of-a-kind offering advice without compensation from either the seller or the buyer. At least in the mattress business where the morality seems to be on a race to the bottom.

      Susan, the reality is that I am completely inundated, snowed under, to the extent that I had to throw up my hands last week and turn off the surveys. This is like a retailer closing the doors when customers are milling around outside trying to get in. In the middle of all of this, I discovered that I had to spend a couple of days as an in-patient taking some new kind of neurological tests. No point in receiving and ignoring them.

      I spent these quiet days in-hospital trying to figure out how to speed up my replies. I can not speed up the virtual shopping involved, as my mission calls for zero defects. I have found some ways that really speed up my how I report back to you. In all likelihood I will have to turn off the requests in a couple of days if the present flood does not subside. So do what you have to do to help me locate the old one, or just get out a new one.

      I would like to save you from making another dumb mistake, believing the lies that have allowed these alternate bed makers to become billionaires chemical foam peddlers. Only in America. Maybe China, the way things are going on over there.

      To protect privacy, the survey that you sent does not ask you for your name and address or any other ID. The only way I can find a survey that has been passed over in the rush is by date. If you can pinpoint the day you sent it in, I will find it, and turn it around overnight. Still in time for the Labor Day sales.

      If you can’t figure out the when, then you have to send me in a brand new survey and in the provided comment box(es) please refer to your lost survey and that we communicated on the blog. I look at the incoming at least once a day, and the days lately, are very long. You may be the first person I have ever heard of who bought a TempurPedic more than once.

      For a belt and suspenders method, also where you are asked for the urgency, just say, “Yesterday”. It will get my attention.

  • Michael Guerra says:

    Hi Marshall,

    Hope all is well. I filled out a survey over 2 weeks ago and am about to “pull the trigger ” and buy a new mattress. I just read your post from yesterday and am hoping that I might hear back from you soon – as you catch up with all the surveys? I’d feel more confident about my choice if I had some feedback from you first. Here’s hoping. Thanks for all the great info on your website!

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Michael,

      I am sorry to have caused you any additional anxiety. Buying a mattress these days seems to be traumatic enough without me adding to the equations. In any event, I seem to be feeling somewhat more capable of sitting in front of the computer helping people after taking a brief hiatus for the medical fraternity to have their way with me. BUT, because of my extreme lack of computer tech knowledge the only way I can retrieve a survey is by date. If you still need a mattress, and my advice, please return email asap with, if you know it, the date you sent the original. If you do not know the date, sorry, but you will have to do a new survey. This time, if you do a new survey, add comment or comments about having sent one two weeks ago and it will go to the top of the to-do list. It will be studied and my suggestions will be in your inbox in no more than 36 hours.

      Thank you for your patience,

      Marshall

  • Erin says:

    Thank you, Mr. Old Bed Guy, for the tremendous help you give to us, your readers! I’ve enjoyed your website and am using it to help me make a decision.

    Erin

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Erin,

      I appreciate the kind words. If you let me help you, I am of the opinion that you will have a better chance of making a superior decision. Unfortunately owing simply to an avalanche of requests, beyond my ability to follow through, I temporarily closed the free “Mattress Survey”. The website says it is opening today, but it can’t. I will take until Monday before I catch up with overdue recommendations and do not want the pressure of the unread ones gnawing at me. This may be the anonymous internet, but to me, each one of you is someone I can help. We have survived five years of this and I am sure that the brain exercise is keeping up my ability to retrieve specific facts that are buried under more piles in my cranial storage site. When I put this bursting “innernet” together with the “Internet” your perfect mattress can’t hide from me.

      Check back on Sunday night or Monday at http://www.oldbedguy.com If the survey is back, it will be at the top of the home page on left and right. Take it, and in the comments section, refer to this note.

      Happy Sleeping,

      Marshall

  • Marshall Coyle says:

    Dear Christine, I regret that my writing style is so information overloaded that many people, apparently including you, tend to get completely tied up in looking secret keys or doors. And although my time, available time, time to write and help people one on one, is really shrinking away. I used to believe that I could get anything done because a week has 168 hours, I sleep no more than 56, so this leaves 113 or so productive hours. As various parts of my nervous system and plumbing have lately started to significantly deteriorate almost like a team of frat buddies playing jokes on me. But when i can write and think, I do so with the greatest gusto making sure that a day does not pass without my solving at least one formerly insoluble puzzle All you and your husband are are ordinary people who have not had enough sleep shopping experience. I have more than enough experience for the both of us.

    Never the less, I will not help anyone who will not help themselves. When you enter into my private office sideways as you have done now, I have little incentive to be your fairy godfather, wave a wand,and solve all your mattress problems. I am incapable of understanding how you could have passed up my offer to help you shop for your mattresses, working with you, one to one. On every page, top left,and top right, I offer a survey questionnaire. A lifetime of understanding the minimum a mattress expert needs to know to be able to help a perfect stranger. You had to have seen them, and you had to make an executive decision to do it your way, not my way.

    Everyone deserves a second chance, so I am putting this letter on suspense and waiting to see how long it will take you to send me questionnaire that will open a new door for you. Write slowly and carefully, and don’t do guess work. Just straight answers. If you make your budget unworkably low, I will refer you to the best of the a lower quality that meets your budget. I will not recommend any mattress that contains VOC gases such as any Tempur-Sealy, I will not recommend any mattress that uses anything other than steel springs for the spring part. Foam is not a spring. Foam is not a support layer. Foam is a cushion, good or bad, but by itself without an innerspring unit is not a mattress. If you take the trouble to please me when you send in the questionnaire, please note the titles of essays that you actually read top to bottom. No is an acceptable answer only if it is true.

    MARSHALL COYLE

  • Marshall Coyle says:

    Dear Janice,

    I am sorry for the delay, as 99% of my readership notices that I give the
    for any questions, I do not expect to find them here. I do not go to these posts very often as they are mainly for readers to help each other. If you have a specific need, or better, still need a mattress, please drop me note at my email, and I will send you all the information that you need. I note that you are in Canada, and that is a small but surmountable problem. In the absence of any real research, which I only do for email correspondence, the Marshall Mattress is the wisest. Again, details by email, not by posting in the blog.

    • Tanya says:

      Dear Mr. Coyle,

      I believed that you saved me from many more headaches! I recently purchased a mattress from Costco, Sleep Science, made of Visco foam. I got incredibly sick the first week we had it. I thought I had a cold or flu but for some reason it wasn’t going away. Two weeks later, I was still sick and also had horrible headaches and vertigo. I decided to sleep in the spare bedroom on a twin mattress that we have hardly used but have had for 10 years. I started to feel better and now realize it was the chemicals from the bed, which still has a smell. I returned the bed and was thinking of getting the Tempurpedic- thinking it was a different type of foam. I was on my computer until 1am this morning and purchased the Saatva- after reading all the good reviews. Luckily I came across your wonderful site today! I canceled my order. I read 103 and took your survey. I hope to receive a reply so I can sleep in a comfortable bed again. You are a wealth of knowledge and I feel fortunate to have found you. Thank you and I hope you are feeling better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.