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Buying a new mattress? We've got your back!

Are you in the market for a new mattress? The first thing you should do is make sure you really need a new one. As Jeff Foxworthy might -- but didn't -- put it, you know you need a new mattress when:

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  • Your current mattress is 8 to 10 years old. Deduct a bit if yours gets an especially heavy workout, such as the kids using it as a trampoline. Add a bit if you have a super-premium bed you've subjected to no undue stress.
  • You've woken up on your bedroom floor and thought, "Man, that's the best sleep I've had in years!"
  • You awaken stiff and sore. Sure, it can be caused by conditions other than a substandard mattress, but you wouldn't be the first person to realize, upon getting a new one, that you didn't have a bad back, just bad bedding. Look for physical signs of wear and tear -- not just the obvious sprung springs, but things such as uneven firmness and sloped edges.
  • Types of mattresses
    All right, it's established: You need a new mattress. There are five basic types of mattresses on the market. Costs, as you will see, vary depending on the type of bed you end up buying. We priced queen-sized mattresses, which is the most-popular size sold, and found prices as high as $1,700 and as low as $100.

    Innerspring mattresses
    Innerspring mattresses are the crowd-pleaser. Nothing much new here, except for the ultradeep models, especially those featuring plush pillowtops and Eurotops. Sheets are now sold to accommodate mattresses up to 25 inches deep.

    Maybe you've heard that "coil count" is important, but in a recent study on this topic, Consumer Reports suggests that any count above 390 in a queen-size mattress should be fine for most folks. Another consumer source pegs the number at 375-plus. Coils come in differing thickness, and the heftier ones will offer more support (cross sections of mattress can commonly be viewed or depicted at showrooms). Pocket springs, named for the way they're encapsulated rather than interconnected, are well-suited for couples who don't wish to disturb each other. The "pockets" restrict overall mattress movement.

    In general, expect to pay about $800 for a good-quality queen set, which includes mattress and box spring.

    Foam beds
    These are the new guys on the block. Memory foam is the stuff of many newer beds, notably the Tempur-Pedic. There are no springs to be sprung from these heat-sensitive, body-conforming mattresses, though a supportive box spring is partnered. Expect to pay about double what you would for a good-quality traditional innerspring set, around $1,700 for a queen.

    Also popular are latex mattresses, prized by those with allergies or asthma, as they're naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites, the cause of many a sensitive sleeper's misery. You'll pay, very roughly, $1,200 for a queen.

    Air mattresses
    You know Lindsay Wagner's sleep number (she's a 35, she tells us in ads), but do you know yours? Learn what yours is, and how it suits you, by ambling into a Select Comfort Sleep Number showroom and, with the use of a remote control, adjust the firmness of your test mattress anywhere from zero to 100. A major selling point is that each partner in a single bed can enjoy his or her own setting. Those who really like to customize their beds with additional accessories may wish to consider the Sleep Number option. Prices for these are also, very generally, in the $1,700 range for a good-quality queen-size mattress plus foundation.

    The all-cotton earthy futon you may have used in college to save space in the dorm now has such options as innerspring coils, which should not interfere with its flexibility or multifunctional use. This may be a good option to consider for those in small apartments or those with modest budgets. A futon and frame can be had for as little as $100 and even top-quality sets are still frugal compared to most other conventional beds.

    -- Posted: July 8, 2005




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