What to consider when buying a mattress

November 24, 2009 3:52:32 PM PST
If you're getting ready to host out of town guests this holiday, buying a new mattress may be on your list of things to do. It can be a daunting task. In fact, Consumer Reports gets more questions about mattresses than any other big-ticket item, except cars. So when it comes to choosing the right mattress, what's the best strategy?

"So one of the things I talk to my patients when they are looking to buy a new mattress is 'What is one of the reasons why?'" said Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders.

Dr. Breus is known as the 'Sleep doctor.' When we caught up to him, he was helping Shaundra Simmons find the right mattress. She's been waking up with back pain and tossing and turning most of the night.

Dr. Breus says Shaundra's case is typical of what he sees. He says a mattress should conform to your shape and have a good supportive base.

"When you lie on a mattress and if the mattress does not conform to your shape, what ends up happening all the muscles stay tense all night long," said Dr. Breus.

So how do you choose what's right for you? Dr. Breus says it's all personal preference.

"It's kind of like the real Goldilocks affect," he said. "You really want to find something that is comfortable, yet supportive."

Here's what you need to do when shopping for a new mattress:

Number 1: Take off your shoes.

"Because your feet swell throughout the day and your shoes can get tight and get comfortable," said Dr. Breus.

Number 2: Use a pillow or even bring your own pillow from home.

"That's a combination. It isn't just about the surface. It's about the whole system," said Dr. Breus.

Number 3: Lie on the bed in the same position you'd be in to fall asleep.

"So some people start on side. Some people on their back, some people on their stomach."

Number 4: Do your shopping later in the day.

"Shop for mattresses at the end of the day when they are normally tired," said Dr. Breus.

Number 5: Take your time. Dr. Breus says your body needs more than three minutes to determine if a mattress is comfortable.

"That's probably the most critical aspect because a lot of people don't realize it, but the way the bed feels in the store may not be the way it feels at home if you don't take your time," he said.

After following Dr. Breus' guide, Shaundra says she's ready to make a decision.

"More than just price, you really should do what he suggested," she said. "Lay down and kind of get the feel of the mattress."

One more thing -- when you are shopping for a mattress, dress comfortably. That means sweat pants and a T-shirt to get a really good feel.


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