Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Shop for a Mattress II

So how do you know what mattress is best for you?  You have talked to friends or relatives, and every one makes a suggestion.  But what is the best mattress?  Is it the Trump Collection?  Is it iComfort?  Is it Tempurpedic, Sleep Number, Comfortaire, or are you just as well off to buy a cheap mattress?  The answer depends on you, and not family or friends.

Think of it this way:  There are many people that love leather furniture, to them nothing beats the feel or durability.  Many people also hate leather furniture, to them it is hot to the touch, and doesn't look good.  We are all individuals.  We need to take our likes and dislikes into account, even when we buy a mattress.  There is no one perfect mattress.  If there were, the others would go out of business.  So how do we know what we like?  Maybe by knowing how the technologies work we can discover some answers.

Since the late 1800s, Innerspring mattresses have been around for people to sleep on.  Like with all things, the spring mattresses of today are different than those of even 10 years ago.  Innerspring mattresses have the largest market share.  So it is good to talk of them.  What makes them comfortable?  Generally the springs will give, allowing the bed to conform to your body, but face it metal is hard.  To combat this, the manufacturers use comfort materials above the springs to make the bed more comfortable.  These materials can be anything from cotton batting to memory foam.  Each material adds to the overall feel of the bed.  The support of any bed, springs included, comes from the structure below the comfort materials.  What is the coil count?  What is the gauge of the spring?  These all indicate the support level as well as the durability.  Coil count in particular will tell you how much support is in the bed.  There is a notion out there that the harder a bed is, then the more supportive it is.  That is true to a point, but by minimizing comfort materials on a low coil count, can make the bed feel harder than a larger coil count bed, the larger coil count would bring better support.  Gauge will tell you about the mattress durability.  The thicker the coils, the longer they will hold their shape; the longer they hold their shape the longer you will get effective support.  In spring beds, price does indicate quality and longevity.  Buying at the local big box, or club by price alone is an extreme mistake.

In the 1960s water beds entered the market in a big way.  Water beds allow you to regulate temperature better.  The water mattress also supports your body with different technology.  Water beds also have much more maintenance than the typical spring bed.  They do an admirable job in the support category, by allowing your body to float in a natural posture.  Today water beds are losing market share, most likely because of newer technologies.

In the 1980s both air based beds and memory foam beds emerged in the market.  Memory foam reacts much like the water beds.  Except the foam replaces the water.  Your body will sink into the bed based on the weight at any particular spot, body heat causes the foam to compress.  This allows your body to find its posture.  Memory foam beds come in a few different styles, including spring support bases.  The more modern memory foam beds use latex foam as a base support structure.  And typically uses no quilting to achieve the best interaction with your body.  The lack of quilting does affect temperature regulation though.  Modern foams have also been enhanced to allow air to pass through keeping you a little cooler as you sleep.  If you sleep hot, however, spend as much time as possible on these beds before you buy, with all the advancements they can still lock heat close to your body.  A very recent introduction is gel based memory foam, this foam repels heat, so if you sleep warm, consider these new foams.

Air beds are very versatile.  There are a few manufacturers and the top two or three put together a very good bed.  The advantages of air are adjustability, and generally a modular design.  They can be mated with different comfort materials as well to match your likes.  They have a similar feel to water beds, without the maintenance.  And there are some key differences relating to the physics of air and water.  Air tech beds tend to be the most long lasting, yet they are not the most expensive.  In fact, most companies offer several bed styles that are very competitive with spring beds of equal quality.  Yet they will last 2 to 4 times as long.  Their support core allows you to set a perfect level allowing your body to find posture in a multitude of sleeping positions.  And they can change as you need change, another advantage not offered in spring beds or foam beds.  And most offer a dual sleep system, so each partner can be happy and not compromising on their individual comfort.

Now a word on warranties.  Use the length and breadth of the warranties to judge the quality of the bed.  Warranties vary between manufacturers, so reading it is a good thing.  As an example, some spring beds have felt like the 20 year warranties offered by air tech and foam beds have hurt them, so they are now offering 20 year warranties as well.  These beds are designed to last 8 to 10 years, and manufacturers set warranties so they will not have to honor them, it is a drag on profit.  You could as an example offer a life time warranty on a bed, but exclude springs... Or require that the gully be more than say 2.5 inches (which will never happen by the way).  When the customer calls for warranty, it doesn't apply.  They then express sorrow and offer a replacement at a discounted price, locking you into that brand for several more years.  No warranty covers dirt, and dirt can invalidate some warranties.  Warranties are set to less than the expected fail rate of any product you buy.  So all things being equal, a warranty can indicate quality.

Part III coming soon....

Sleep Well!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Shop for a New Mattress

We only do it once a decade, some even less often, some more, is there a trick to shopping for your next mattress?  We believe there are no real "tricks", just an approach that will maximize your comfort, and minimize the discomfort.  We are in the mattress industry, and most people see mattress sales people as slightly above car salesmen.  And, we admit, it is good to be cautious.

The first tip is to be methodical.  The first thing to do is to consider all types of mattresses.  Buying the same technology over and over again, and being disappointed, is not good.  So first, find out what your options are.  Take inventory on just what your perfect mattress would do.  For some, they want back pain to go away.  Others don't sleep particularly well, tossing and turning night after night.  Still other have no complaints except they just don't like buying a new mattress.  Let's look at each one.

If you have sleep issues, pain in particular, what type of mattress will work best for you.  Spring bed manufacturers say get a hard bed.  And that is true of spring beds, not always true of other technologies.  Perhaps even a friend or family member has told you the same.  We have found that pain comes from two places.  The first is the normal wear and tear on our bodies.  The second is sleeping on the wrong bed.  From a personal perspective, after sleeping for years on a very firm bed, after laying on beds in the show room and choosing the one that felt the hardest, did not work for us.  The key is to find a bed that will support your normal waking posture.  If the surface does not do that, you will get pain.  This is the easiest pain to 'cure' by replacing your mattress with one that works better.  We would wake with pain most mornings.  Throughout the day, that pain would subside, only to come back as we slept.  Our 'cure' came from getting the right mattress.  Almost immediately our bodies became less of an enemy, and in the years since that time, our sleep has improved and the pain is for the most part gone.

The second form of pain is medical.  Things like arthritis, or fibromyalgia can impede your sleep and cause pain.  No mattress can cure that.  But the proper mattress might just reduce that pain.  Some 80 percent of people will experience back pain in their lives.  The key is to discover why.  Injuries can be the cause, as can simple muscle strain.  We spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, the bed should promote a healthy back.  A little factoid at this point, up until several years ago, doctors did not have to take sleep science to receive their degree.  Some medical practitioners are not equipped to deal with the subject.  Times are changing, and hopefully so will our pain.  In the mean time, why not try to figure a little out on our own?

The second tip is to read real reviews on different beds.  Look at ratings like that that the BBB publishes.  Or web sites like Sleep Like the Dead.  They will show you who to trust.  But that still does not answer the main question:  what bed is best for me?

Second, after your research period is complete, it is time to go to the store.  Please schedule enough time to complete this task.  We see people all the time that just want to buy something so they can go home and do a "fun" activity.  This is the wrong approach, and you will pay for it for years!  Plan to spend about an hour, perhaps more in each store you visit.  Pick specialized stores, that is those who feature particular technologies.  A store that features too many differing technologies cannot be as well versed in how to use them as a specialist store.  Also, try to pick a store that is local, because local stores rely more on your business than chains.  Department stores as an example don't make their living off mattresses, they sell primarily on price, and while price is important, it should not be the only consideration.  If a local store fails you, they are injured much worse than a giant chain.  Your negativity towards them can literally bankrupt them.

When you go into a store, know what you are looking for.  Talk to the clerk, tell them what you need as ask their suggestions.  This is critical, but be mindful that sometimes they will show you what they make the most from, if that happens, politely leave.  An example is once, we were on a competitive shop, we really wanted to see how a store (a major chain) positioned Tempurpedic.  Tempurpedic beds were right inside the door, and before the clerk arrived we were looking at the tags and sitting on the bed.  To me, that would show interest in Tempurpedic, not so this clerk.  Apparently Simmons was offering better spiffs, so he walked us away from the bed we had an interest in to show us the Simmons beds, he did show us beds with memory foam in the topper.  We even mentioned that we heard good things about Tempurpedic, and after a long wait he did agree to show us the Tempurpedic products, but he did not understand them.  If a sales person does not approach you at all, unless they are busy, quietly leave.  Mattress shopping should not be self service.  Buying from a club, or any store, with no help, except to tie it to the top of your car, is a disservice to your investment and your back.

Fourth, don't be in a hurry.  All mattress stores have sales all the time.  In fact, most smaller stores will match the chains price, and if you come back after the sale may even sell you the bed you want at the sale price.  There is a mall store air bed company that flashes head lines, graphics or anything else shouting that this is the best sale of the season, and they are correct, their sale generally does not change.  On the end date of the current sale, another sale starts, and that sale is rarely different on price.  There maybe different model focus, or they may be closing out a particular model ( although, only consider closeouts on normal inventory, not beds that were made to be special).  And you can always offer a price.  Keep in mind that stores need to pay the rent, and utilities, and pay employees, but making a couple hundred dollars often will make the difference in their ability to pay the rent!  Offer to pay with cash or check and ask for a discount.  Credit card companies get a piece of every sale, and that factors into the price.  Also keep in mind, that they won't sell at a loss.

We do like to keep these blogs a manageable length, so we will continue this topic a while longer.  Please check back to see more tips.  We believe that these are a good start.  Next we will dive into the different technologies, and what they may offer to you for better sleep.  Until then...

Sleep Well!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter and Sleep

Each season brings new variables to our sleep.  We are in what I call the dead of winter now, and winter is no different.  Our bodies react to our environment.  Winter brings shorter, grayer days which can impact our circadian rhythms.

The gray days make us sleepy in the morning, and at 5 PM when darkness hits, our bodies start to shut down.  We do have some advantages in our modern era, primarily the electric light bulb.  We can simulate a longer day, but most bulbs do not simulate full spectrum sunlight, so it is still not quite the same, but every little bit helps.  Shorter days encourages us to be some what less active, which again plays into the sleepiness we find during the day.

The key to thriving in winter is to stick to a daily schedule, perhaps winter is the most important time to do that.  By sticking to our schedules we will find ourselves sleeping better and productively.  By sticking to our schedules we will find just a little more energy to live our lives to the fullest.  And perhaps the commercials that always pop up in February or March, you know, the ones that remind us that beach season is right around the corner, how will you look in your swim suit?  Maybe they won't mean anything to us...

A consistent schedule is for 24 hours.  We should try to wake at the same time every day, including days off.  We should strive to go to bed at a set time.  Then we will offer our bodies the environment that they need to sleep well.  Probably would be a good thing to find things that can keep us active, if you have kids or grand kids I'm sure they can help!  If not regular gym visits, because it's cold outside are good ways to help off set the short days of winter.  Be sure to eat light as well, with the encouraged inactivity of the winter months, it is a time when we can gain a few pounds, which can impact sleep.

And now, it is incumbent on me to at least mention our business.  We do this as a public service, but the business is what gives us that opportunity.  We sell beds.  And not just any beds, but Comfortaire Air adjustable mattresses.  And Comfortaire can help you to sleep better in this winter season.  The lush bamboo toppers, the cuddly foam comfort materials will encourage deep sleep.  And the adjustable nature of the Comfortaire bed means that as your life changes, your bed can match.  And the last plug, our beds just last longer.  There are no springs to where out, and the modular design means you can replace parts and keep your bed feeling like news well past the limited 20 year warranty.  Comfortaire says: For the rest of your life... Which is a double entendre, rest as in sleep and rest as in all your life.  If you are thinking a new bed, please consider us and Comfortaire!  You can visit our web site by clicking here.

Sleep Well!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do I Need an Adjustable Bed?

There are two basic reasons one would need an Adjustable bed.  The first is for health.  The second is for luxury.   Today we would like to talk about this specialized segment of the bed industry.  And just how an adjustable bed might help you.

Let's look at each reason independently.  The first is for health.  How can an adjustable bed help your health?  There have been polls and research done that point to adjustable beds helping certain people.  If you suffer fibromyalgia, an adjustable bed can allow you to sleep in a "zero gravity" position.  This position will help to spread your body mass over the top of the bed alleviating some of the pressure points that can impede your sleep.  And as we believe, the better your sleep, the better you are able to take on the challenges of the day.

If you suffer from acid reflux an adjustable bed can put you in a position that keeps your esophagus slightly higher than your stomach.  This can help keep the stomach acids where they belong, in the stomach.  Less acid in the esophagus means less damage and quicker healing of the symptoms of acid reflux.  Again, if you do not have to fight pain, you should sleep better.  And better sleep is what we promote both here and in our business.

Is there a snorer in your bed room?  If so an adjustable bed may help to reduce or eliminate the snoring.  Please keep in mind that snoring could be an indicator of sleep apnea, a rather serious condition requiring a doctors evaluation and care.  We hear often how couples no longer sleep together because of snoring.  That is a sad thing, so if an adjustable bed would help, we feel it is well worth it!  Better sleep for the non snoring partner is a very good thing!

There are other problems that can be solved from a health standpoint by using an adjustable bed.  Whether it is just to help an older person get up to go to the bathroom, or help spread the pressure to encourage restful sleep, we believe in the abilities of the adjustable bed.


The second reason was luxury.  Now don't discount this off the top.  If you like to read before bed, or (and this is not recommended) watch TV, then there is no more comfortable way to do it than in an adjustable bed.  Some even offer a massage feature, which can help relieve the pressures of your day.  Please do not consider these beds as "hospital beds"  because that indicates if your sick you need one.  That is totally untrue.  Consider spring time which will be here before you know it, getting out in the garden or yard can be back breaking especially after a winter of little yard work.  The minor aches and pains can be soothed by an adjustable bed.

And always consider the mattress on top of it.  The major adjustable bed manufacturers have long term warranties on their product.  As an example Leggett & Platt, a Missouri company, and our preferred provider, offers a limited lifetime warranty on the adjustables they sell.  Shouldn't your mattress be at least that good?  That's why our business sells and promotes Comfortaire mattresses, with a 20 year limited warranty, your new bed can truly last and it makes economic sense as well.  Prices in the Air technology segment are just about the same as innerspring, but will last maybe 3 times as long.

Since we believe in the adjustable bed, at our business we try to make it affordable for as many as possible.  The competition sets our base price, then we discount.  We also realize that affordability is a problem for some.  There are options that can be afforded by every one, so let us help you sleep better.  We also try to be educated on the benefits, and can help support your sleep health in our store.  Stop by and test us!

Sleep Well!