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Home Matters

Mattresses and you

"If you don't get a good night's sleep, you will feel it," says Pete. And a good night's sleep is usually highly dependent on your mattress. He and Rob are joined by Blake Garfield from Bedrooms and More to help you figure out what mattress is right for you.

Blake leads classes on how to choose the right mattress, and says a lot of customers come into Bedrooms and More armed with lots of misinformation that they found online. "We thought we'd give people the resources to make an educated purchase." Classes, he says, are available on Saturday mornings and cover topics like mattress materials and how long they last.

"A lot of people think that, to buy a mattress, they have to buy the box to go with it," Blake says. Not only do you have to not buy the matching box spring, but he says that evolution of box springs has made them more into boxes and less into springs.

"A lot of people think that the warranty on a mattress, is in some way, related to the comfort life of the mattress," he adds. "So, a lot of mattresses will have a 20-year warranty, and the average age of the mattress we're taking away is four years old." The warranty is not an indicator of mattress quality, he says.

So, when mattress-shopping, what are some of the key things you should look for in a quality mattress?

"There's no magic mattress material that's not going to change over time," says Blake. Therefore all mattress manufacturers choose from a small list of "ingredients," which can be seen on the mattress tag (recipe).

Knowing how those materials wear, he says, will give you a good indication of how the mattress will perform over time.

How the mattress is built will also determine the performance of the mattress. Sealy Posturepedic mattresses tend to have different coil structures than, say, Simmons mattresses; and while Blake says there's some branding (or as Pete puts it, "gimmicks") involved with those structures, "there's actually value to different styles of approach," he says. "It's not that one is right for everyone, it's just that they're different."

If you're looking to get away from a coil system, the alternative is foam; Tempur-pedic is one of the more recognizable brands of foam mattresses.

Your choices lie within two types of materials: plastic foams and rubber foams. Plastic foams, Blake says, can be specially processed to make memory foam - which Tempur-pedic has made famous. Plastic foams, however, can give off a chemical smell to which some people can be quite sensitive. If you're sensitive to that particular smell, which can make one feel nauseated or even sick to their stomach, look toward rubber foam.

Rubber offers the benefit of not compressing. "If you take a six-inch core of that botanical rubber [made from the sap of a rubber tree], over a 30-year span, [it will have] less an than eighth of an inch of compression. It stays flat," he says. "If you want a maintenance-free product, I'm a big fan of rubber."

Most American mattresses, however, are mostly made from synthetic rubber (due to geographical limitations during World War II). There's intrinsic value to both kinds of rubber, Blake says. He just recommends knowing the difference and your needs.

So which mattress is right for you: spring or foam?

"There's not a right-or-wrong answer there," Blake says. "A lot has to do with what you're coming from, because there's a lot to be said for familiarity. If you choose a bed that feels relatively similar, you're more likely to be successful than if you make a big change that's way softer or way firmer. Baby steps."

It also comes down to value. "Buying an all-foam mattress can be quite a bit more expensive than a buying a coil mattress because with a coil mattress, you're getting a fair amount of conformity with springs, and coil units are relatively inexpensive." He also adds that coil systems don't fail, but you're not getting uniform support from head-to-toe.

Once you've figured out a material, the next component to look at is "the secret sauce," as Pete puts it: the warranty. Or should you?

"Mattress warranties are useless," Blake says. "That being said, here are the things you should do to keep your mattress warranty valid: don't cut the tag off the mattress and keep it stain-free."

When a mattress inspector comes to inspect the mattress, Blake says the mattress must have an inch and a half to two inches of sag. "You would either have to have an iron back or be jumping up and down on the bed to get that kind of sag," Blake says. He reiterates that a mattress warranty is not an indicator of quality; the materials are on what you should be relying.

Home Matters with Pete and Rob can be heard on KIRO Radio every Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m. or anytime at KIRORadio.com. Like Home Matters on Facebook.

Cait Walsh, MyNorthwest Writer
Caitlyn Walsh is a regular lifestyles contributor for MyNorthwest. She enjoys reading and hiking, as well as perusing all the cat videos the Internet has to offer.
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