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How to Shop for a Mattress

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For those of us who do not have insomnia, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping. And most of that time is spent on a mattress. Sure couches, recliners and hammocks everywhere bank hours of nap time, but it’s our mattresses that do most of the heavy lifting. As such, they typically last about 10 years or so, although most of us hang on to our mattresses for much longer. At some point in your life, though, you are going to have to go mattress shopping. Here are a few handy tips for when that moment arrives.

Since you spend such a huge chunk of time on it, when you do have to purchase a new mattress, you should spend a decent amount of time shopping for just the right one. Come on — you know you need something super comfy because not getting enough sleep can have some seriously bad side effects. Before you hit the stores, you need to consider a few things. First, what size mattress are you looking for? Will it be for your child? A small guest room? Or you, your significant other and your English mastiff? The standard sizes are twin (38 x 75 inches), double (53 x 75 inches), queen (60 x 80 inches) and king (76 x 80 inches). There’s also something called California king, which is 72 x 84 inches.

The next thing to consider is what type of mattress you want. Think about what type you have now and how it has served you. If you have an innerspring mattress (which is the best-selling style) and like it, then you might be able to focus your search on that particular kind. However, if you’re not too keen on the style you currently have, you’ll know you want to try something else. Innerspring mattresses are what they sound like — they’re the ones with the spring system inside. You’ll also find solid-foam mattresses on the market, many of which are made using memory foam. As you may already know, this type of material was originally developed for NASA. Memory foam works by using your body heat to help it mold to your body; it evenly distributes the weight and pressure of whatever is placed on top of it — including you. Worried that you and your partner won’t agree on a style? Then you might want to consider a mattress that incorporates inflatable/air bed technology, which lets you adjust each side of the bed separately. So if you like a squishy mattress, but your mate prefers extra firm, you’re not destined to doze apart in separate twin beds.

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, check around to see what sales are going on. According to Consumer Reports, there’s no reason to buy a mattress at full price because sales are frequent and it’s not uncommon to find discounts of 50 percent or even a little more. In fact, I got the idea for this blog post just yesterday when I went with my sister and brother-in-law to buy a new mattress for my niece. Mattresses were discounted everywhere we went for Memorial Day sales.

On the day you go shopping, wear casual, comfortable clothes and shoes you can slip off easily. When you get to the store, be prepared to take some time testing the mattresses. You want to spend at least 20 minutes on each mattress you’re seriously considering. Consumer Reports has a good method — spend at least five minutes each on your back, your stomach and each side. And that goes for you and your significant other. You need to stretch out on the bed together. If you know your four-year-old spends every Thursday night cuddled up with you all, have him join you in the bed, too. Might as well make sure there’s enough room for all of you now before you take it home.

One final note — don’t be intimidated by hovering sales people; they’re used to shoppers taking time to test out the merchandise. They’re most likely lurking nearby so they can answer any questions you have, not because they want you to move. On the flip side, though, if the store is busy, do be considerate of your fellow patrons — especially if you know you want to go to a few more stores and won’t be making a purchase immediately.

How old is your mattress? Have you purchased a new one recently? What style do you prefer? Let us know. Oh, and if you’re looking for pointers on picking the perfect pillow, Molly’s got you covered.

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