First, let me tell you about the truly terrible bed I was sleeping on. I have a full size frame with a full size mattress foundation. A few years ago my then-boyfriend and I got a great deal on mattresses at Walmart that were supposed to be temporary. It was an air mattress with a 2" memory foam topper zipped into a mattress cover. The mattress is queen sized. The rest of the bed is full sized. I just slapped that mattress on the full sized foundation and frame and it was not really as big a deal as you'd think. It wasn't like I was falling off the sides or anything. But part of the problem was that it became less and less comfortable over time, and the other issue was that every time I'd move or turn over the air mattress would shift inside the mattress cover and make a sort of creaking noise.
The most difficult part about mattress shopping is that it is so hard to comparison shop or do any research at all. I research practically everything I buy before I buy it. I want consumer reviews, industry reviews, rating systems, and a clear way to make a decision. If I'm thinking I need new mascara I'll spend about 400 years on makeupalley.com trying to find one with the best reviews from people with lashes like mine. When I got my air purifier I spent a long time looking at Consumer Reports ratings and amazon.com ratings and just googling the heck out of the subject. Even before I go to Target and I think I might want to buy clothes I'll go to target.com and see what people have to say about what is currently available. You would be impressed (or maybe appalled) at how long I spent on cnet.com trying to find the perfect cellphone. I like opinions! I want to know what's going to break down too soon. Or what shirt is going to twist funny in the wash. Or if my new mascara is going to flake into my eyeballs.
Mattresses, however, are an entirely different beast. Consumer Reports didn't even review mattresses until this year because they are so subjective, not to mention impossible to compare. Since different companies give the same beds different names so that they can be sold at different stores for different prices, there is almost no way to compare products. And the pricing is INSANE. Apparently the manufacturer's suggested retail price on the mattress set I got was something like $2600. But of course that was slashed in half at the store, so it was $1300. And THEN there was a SALE (because there is ALWAYS a sale) so I got it for less than $700. (I found the set after wandering around the store for a while once I tried out the stuff the salesman told me to. Once he saw where I had disappeared to he told me that was the mattress deal they advertise to get people in the door but usually try to steer people to other sets because it was such a good deal. I can't decide if that was a way of honestly telling me I was getting a deal, or him trying to get me to buy the mattress. Oh probably just a good sales tactic.) Give me a break, no other industry works like that. And unless you cut the thing in half you're not going to know what kind of padding your mattress has. And if it has a lot of padding, how do you know it is good quality? Will it last for the next 10 years? Who knows?
Furthermore, people have vastly different tastes, and this is a huge reason why Consumer Reports didn't rate mattresses (unless it's a Tempurpedic or Sleep Number, I forget which one they liked but it was one of the major ones). This is also why you can't trust online reports. One of the mattress stores I went to had me lie down on all kinds of beds to start: plush, pillowtop, firm, Tempurpedic, and Sleep Number. For a long time I thought I liked firm beds, well it turns out I don't. I like softer beds. I like to feel like I'm sleeping on a cloud. (OKAY not literally, that would be a bad drop wouldn't it?) So if I bought a firm mattress and hated it, of course I'd give it a bad review if I felt like going online to whine about it. But a person who really does appreciate a firm mattress would LOVE it and give a rave review. As a researcher you just can't trust what you read.
So after laying on lots and lots of mattresses in several stores (and YES, you have to lay down on them and yes it is soooo weird. I'm carrying on these conversations with sales guys looking up at the ceiling thinking "Hmmmmm there is no way to make this less AWKWARD!!!!!"), I found one I liked (a Simmons Beautyrest something or other). It was actually the 5th mattress I tried out of countless mattresses. It came with free delivery and free removal of my current bedding stuff (pretty typical of any mattress store). I popped the 2" memory foam topper from my crazy ghetto mattress configuration on there. (I really did agonize about putting the topper on, and then I was like "HEATHER, this is your mattress that you paid good money for. If you want to put a tornado siren and cowbells on it that's your decision.") It is sooooo comfortable. When I lie down it immediately conforms to my body. My back doesn't hurt (sometimes it does for a few minutes when I am on a firm mattress). Oh, and my arms don't go numb while I'm sleeping, which is also a sign of a mattress that is too firm.
And check out my fancy moody voo-doo wall art that I ripped out of magazines and framed:
There, now you've had a little tour of my bedroom!