How to spend one-third of your life

How to spend one-third of your life

Ah, sweet slumber. We spend about one-third of our lives asleep. My position is that it should be a comfortable one-third. Which brings me to the subject of beds.

First, an observation. Bed manufacturers purposely put different names on the same bed models, depending on the retailer. This makes it impossible for the consumer to compare prices and shop for a good deal. It keeps bed prices artificially high, as retailers do not compete on price. Not exactly consumer-friendly, but almost all bed manufacturers follow this practice.

Beyond price, comfort is a prime consideration. Most mattresses are composed of a bunch of springs surrounded by a wooden frame. Metal springs are, by and large, uncomfortable to lay on. (Ever sleep on top of a bunch of Slinkys? It’s not all that great. You know, so I hear.) Manufacturers put lots of cushions and layers of padding on top of the springs to try to make the bed less painful. And then they try to sell you another wooden “box spring” underneath the mattress itself, telling you it avoids undue wear-and-tear on the springs (huh?). My thinking is: why not just start with something more comfortable and resilient in the first place?

Now, I’m not claiming what I’ve found as my favorite bed in the whole world will work for everyone else. The comfort piece is highly subjective. To find your nirvana, I recommend going to several stores (with your spouse if you’re so inclined) and spend some quality quiet time test driving the beds. At first, it’ll feel weird. There’s probably a sales person talking at you. Maybe other people in the store glancing oddly your way. But this is one of those times in life when you’ve got to not care what others think, let go of your fears, lie down, close your eyes, and take a good long rest. Take 10 minutes at least for each bed you’re considering. Turn over on your side, back, however you normally sleep.

As with any large purchase, I also recommend not buying anything the day you’re trying out the beds. Instead, wait a day. This helps make sure it’s not the sales person pitch and thrill of the moment, but instead your inner self gets some time to chew on the decision before committing.

For me, I’ve found the Tempur-Pedic “memory foam” bed to be the answer to both the price and comfort conundrums. First, Tempur-Pedic doesn’t rename each model for each retailer. They’re all called the same thing. On the minus side, Tempur-Pedic requires retailers to maintain the same list prices. So, no price comparison shopping, but then, no stress about getting a good deal either.  You can ask about the retailer matching other Tempur-Pedic retailers, who often throw in extras like free Tempur-Pedic pillows and no-interest 18-month financing. But in general, it’s an easier purchasing experience.

On comfort, this is where the Tempur-Pedic really works for me. There’s no metal springs. Instead, the bed’s made of some space-age “memory foam” that feels slightly like you’re laying on a squishy fruit salad. But instead of sinking all the way through, it eventually softly pushes back. It also retains slightly more body heat underneath you than a traditional mattress, something I appreciate.

Finally, Tempur-Pedic offers a ten-year full warranty, followed by another ten-year pro-rated warranty. And unlike spring mattress manufacturers, Tempur-Pedic will replace the bed if there’s more than 0.75″ of sag. (My previous spring mattress had a 2″ crater of sag after one year, and the retailer said it wasn’t covered).

With a Tempur-Pedic mattress, you do not need a box spring underneath. In fact, the “bed frame” Tempur-Pedic sells doesn’t contain any springs like a traditional box spring. Skip it. It’s just a spacer to raise the mattress if your bed needs it. My recommendation is to get bed furniture that doesn’t even have space for a box spring – the one I found actually has slide-out drawers for storage instead.

In terms of which Tempur-Pedic model to choose, I prefer the “Classic” model. I arrived at this one through the process of elimination. The “Cloud” collection has padding and stuff on top of the memory foam, which isn’t needed. The “HD” collection feels too firm to me. This leaves the standard “Tempur Collection” models, and while the cheapest “Original” and “Advantage” models don’t have enough magic space-age goo, the “Classic” feels just right.

While Tempur-Pedic beds aren’t the cheapest, I believe beds are like car tires – it’s not really one of those purchases you want to skimp on. And of course a great bed doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good nights rest by itself. But it’s a good place to start. Sleep well.

Image courtesy Tempur-Pedic.