How to shop for a Memory Foam Mattress

Donncha is choosing a memory foam mattress. About ten months ago I purchased a foam mattress and it dramatically improved my sleep. It took me about a week to choose a mattress and the time was very well spent. Take your time! You’re going to spend years cradled in this piece of foam so you had better find a good one.

The big brand I saw everywhere was Tempur-Pedic. They are pricey so I bought a non-marketed brand foam mattress for about 40% less. It’s fantastic!

The salesman said the reason for the higher price is a more consistent foam density throughout the mattress. The cheaper ones tend to have harder/softer areas. My mattress has a firm side and a soft side and I consider that a perk. It’s like having two beds. 🙂

I did get the Tempur-Pedic brand anatomically conforming pillow and I was surprised to find that one of the corners is much more dense than the rest of the pillow. That corner doesn’t squish as readily under pressure. I didn’t return it because that corner is far from where I lay my head. Still, look out for that when you get your mattress and pillows.

Take your time when you go shopping for a mattress! You shouldn’t plunk down a bundle of money the first time you go into the store. Go in a few times in a week, preferably late in the day when you could use a nice lie-down. Wear loose clothing and remove your shoes. If you don’t plan on buying one of their pillows, bring your own.

Unlike spring and air mattresses, memory foam changes as it gradually reacts to your body heat. Spend at least a few minutes settling into every mattress you try. Relax on at least one sample from each firmness category. Try different brands. Take your time! Tell the salesperson to leave you alone so you can feel each one thoroughly. Try the kind with layers of varying densities. Try the most expensive and the cheapest. Try rolling over. If you like to cuddle in bed you should bring someone along. (I don’t know how friendly you should get with the help at your local mattress emporium.)

The mattress you used in the showroom will almost certainly not be the one you bring home. Ask to spend a few minutes on “your mattress” before you take delivery. They will tell you that the showroom mattresses have been broken in, therefore you should not expect identical performance from the brand new article. This is true but you should still be able to detect any major problems and potentially save yourself a hassle. (I didn’t do this, so I wound up with a mattress that has a firm side and a soft side. One man’s serendipity is another man’s hassle.)

The last bit of advice: get a good warranty. Sometimes the foam will develop a permanent depression. The warranty should specify the threshold of acceptable depression (maybe 2cm) and it should endure at least 10 years. They range to 20 years and beyond.

Happy shopping and remember to take your time!

3 thoughts on “How to shop for a Memory Foam Mattress

  1. Thanks Andy! We looked around but they are very expensive and that put us off for the time being. One store did have a half-price sale on, and a 6″ mattress was going for about $1050 which is less than half the price of other mattresses.
    We were tempted but I rang them later and they said the mattress doesn’t react much to body heat (bad), and only has a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty which is bad too.

    We’re going to go into town again on Tuesday morning and scout around before the sales are over!

  2. Your story inspires me, and with Julia’s back issues, this is something we were already considering. Depending how are search for buying a home, this is one of our other top priorities.

    After spending the money on the structure, I trust you spent the money on the surface? 900 thread count sheets?

  3. I also bought the off-brand Tempurpedic some time ago. I actually bought it off the Internet at I spent about three months contemplating before making this purchase. I saved a lot of money, but was afraid of spending this kind of cash at a web site where I couln’t really lay down on the mattress first. It worked out just fine and I love my mattress.

    During my “research phase” I learned that there are different methods for creating the foam in mattresses and that can lead to in-consistent density. I haven’t had any such problems with mine.

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