How to Buy a Mattress

I’ve written blogs on how to buy a mattress before, and I’m going to do it again.  Choosing a new mattress is not a light decision, you’re going to spend eight hours in it a night (hopefully), for about the next ten years.  That’s 29,200 hours in this mattress.  It’s longer than you spend in any other place, or with any other home furnishing.  It had better be comfortable.

ShowroomThings have changed a lot since you last bought a mattress.  Here are a few changes that you should be aware of before you go out shopping:

  • Surprise…they are one-sided now.  That’s right, no flipping.  No, they didn’t just cut the bottom half off, the support of these new one-sided mattresses is actually better than the old two-sided ones, and they last just as long, if not longer.  Just less effort for you.  Really.
  • Manufacturers are now putting memory foam, latex, and gel into mattresses.  This is GREAT, because they offer more pressure relief, durability, and comfort.  Mattresses with gel can also keep you cooler throughout the night.
  • Prepare yourself, you’re not going to pay the same amount that you paid ten years ago.  If you compare the inflation of gas, you paid $2.01 for a gallon then, and about $3.39 a gallon today.  By this same increase, if you paid $800 for your bed ten years ago, the same quality bed will be $1349.

It’s really easy to get confused with all of the new technology out there, as well as all the different brands and models.  Some tips:

  • Don’t try out all of the beds in the showroom.  That’s why there is a salesperson who is (hopefully) versed in all sorts of useful information about the beds that they carry.  They should be able to skillfully navigate you through the store and eliminate beds in groups depending on your comfort preferences, body type, and medical/pain issues.  If the salesperson isn’t helpful, go to a different store.  You’re going to need help on this one.
  • Make sure that you try out all of the different types of mattresses: memory foam, latex, air, and innerspring.  Just because your neighbor bought a memory foam bed and hated it doesn’t mean that you will too.  Don’t limit yourself.
  • Different brands have different features, some of which may be important to you, some which may not be.  Don’t get hung up on a certain brand or manufacturer.  Remember that every manufacturer makes a great top of the line mattress, and every manufacturer also makes a not so good bargain mattress.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • If you’re trying to compare two different brands, don’t concern yourself about the coil counts.  There are so many different types of coil systems, different thicknesses of wire, and different support profiles that you can’t compare this way.  You CAN compare foam density, edge support, warranty, and height.
  • Feel free to go to more than one store, but don’t expect to price shop that much.  Each store will have a different variety of manufacturers and models, you won’t find much the same from store to store.
  • Don’t put too much stock in customer reviews.  The problem with beds is that everyone’s body is different and need different types of support.  The same way that not everyone fits into or looks good in a size small purple shirt, different bodies need different feels and comfort levels. Most reviews are because someone made the wrong decision with their purchase, not because the mattress is not fit for anyone to sleep on.

The biggest piece of advice that I have?  Don’t overthink your selection, it will make you crazy.  Purchase the mattress that feels the best to you after laying on it for about thirty minutes in your normal sleep position.  Buy the most expensive bed that you can afford, there really is a difference.  Stores will usually negotiate, so try for a great deal.  After you purchase, give your body at least two to three weeks to adjust to the new mattress before you decide if you like it or not.

Remember, the purpose is to go mattress shopping to find the most comfortable bed that you can that will offer you the best support.  Don’t worry about all the bells and whistles, the coil counts, the foam layers, the reviews, or what your mom says.  Get what you feel is the best fit for your body, at the best price possible.

Memory Foam vs Innerspring

So you want a memory foam vs innerspring showdown?

I’m sure that you’re well aware of my intense love affair with memory foam, but is it for everyone?  No, unfortunately not.  I’ve had a few customers ask me which is better for them, and I must admit, sometimes its…gasp…not memory foam.

So, to promote fair and balanced analysis, I’ve decided to step back from my pro-memory foam stance, and give you a list of pros and cons of each bedding medium.  Objectively.  I promise.

Innerspring Mattress Pros and Cons

  • Pro: There are a huge variety of different manufacturers, styles, feels, and price ranges.  It’s virtually impossible not to find one that’s comfortable for you to sleep on.
  • Con: Sleeping on metal creates pressure points.  This means that no matter how much padding your bed has, it will still cause you to toss and turn, eventually.
  • Pro: They are bouncy, making them easier to move around on, and better for other…ahem…bedroom activities.
  • Con:  Innerspring mattresses are more likely to sag, squeak, or creak.
  • Pro:  You can find comfortable models for cheap.
  • Con: Innerspring mattresses lose their comfort level over time – it’s not going to feel the same in 5 years as it does now.
  • Pro:  There are many different manufacturers, with many different coil systems, designed for different levels of back support, weight, etc.
  • Con:  There are many different manufacturers, with many different coil systems, designed for different levels of back support, weight, etc.  Totally confusing!

Memory Foam Mattress Pros and Cons

  • Pro:  The back support on a foam mattress is far superior to any innerspring, regardless of coil system or price.
  • Con:  The “sinky” feeling doesn’t appeal to some people.
  • memory foamPro:  Memory foam provides excellent pressure relief, so you toss and turn 80% less, and they increase circulation.
  • Con:  If you don’t opt for a gel version, they can sleep warm.
  • Pro:  The density of the foam makes the bed last for about twice as long as innerspring without developing body impressions, sags, etc.  No creaking or squeaking, either.
  • Con:  They can be difficult to move around on, and get off of.
  • Pro:  No dust mites, mildew, or mold.  Additionally, many brands (like Comforpedic) certify their components, meaning that they are non-toxic and there’s no off-gassing.
  • Con:  They can be more expensive than innerspring, but they do last longer!
  • Pro: You can’t feel your partner moving around.
  • Con: The profile isn’t as high as many innerspring mattresses.

Innerspring vs Memory Foam Recommendations:

If you’re a young person, and like the feel of memory foam, I say go for it.  It will benefit your health and your wallet in the long run.

If you’re an older person who may have arthritis or circulation problems, memory foam may be the better option.  Just make sure that you can move around on it easily.  Additionally, it can be used with an adjustable base down the road, if you need it!  If memory foam is too hard to get out of, or it’s not comfortable for you, innerspring will work too!

If you’re a person on a budget, innerspring may be the way to go.  Less expensive memory foam is less dense and won’t last as long as comparably priced innerspring beds.  They will also sleep hot.

If you’re a couple who like different feels, try out a memory foam mattress.  They are often the happy medium, since each partner is supported according to his or her weight.  Additionally, you won’t get the hump in the middle of the bed, and won’t feel like you’re rolling into each other.

If you like a bouncier feel, or sit on the edge of the bed a lot, innerspring is your option.  The edge support is much better, and nothing bounces like a steel coil!

 

Hopefully this helped you find decipher what is good and not so great about memory foam and innerspring.  The last piece of advice that I have is to try them out.  The feels are very different, and your body may prefer one over the other.  If that is the case, go with whatever feels the best to you, and disregard the rest.  However, if you’re indifferent, remember that memory foam offers superior support, durability, and value in the long run.  Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!!!

Sleep and Mattress Recommendations

Call me a sleep geek, but I not only write my own sleep blogs, but I read everyone else’s too.  I think that blogs and articles about sleep and mattresses are really interesting, as long as they are done right.  That being said, here’s my gripe:

It’s ridiculous to write in to a blog and ask the writer to recommend a specific mattress that will solve all your sleep problems.  It’s even more ridiculous for the “sleep expert” blogger to actually recommend such a bed.

Why?  Because everyone has a different body with different support needs, different weight distributions, etc.  Telling me that you’re 5’9 and 180 lbs. in a letter doesn’t tell me if you carry your weight in your belly, or if you have really broad shoulders, or if you have chicken legs.  Telling me that you sleep on your side doesn’t tell me if your legs are stretched out or pulled up to your chest, or if your arm is under your pillow.  Telling me that you have occasional lower back pain doesn’t tell me if it hurts after you go golfing, if you have a physical job, if you medicate daily with aspirin, etc.  Telling me that you have a herniated disc in your back doesn’t tell me what position is the most comfortable for you to sleep in, or if your doctor has recommended a specific type of mattress or way of sleeping.  You get the drift?

And really, you’re going to trust this guy?

So, as self-centric as I am, I tell you what brands I like, and which brands have the broadest appeal.  I also tell you which comfort levels are usually better for which types of sleeper, to be used as a loose guideline.  You will never find a post in my blog which has a specific mattress recommendation for a specific problem. 

If you’re set on having someone else choose your bed, feel free to write to those other sleep bloggers, and ask for their advice.  However, if you don’t like their recommendation, be prepared to foot the bill for exchanging your mattress, with no assistance from the blogger.  Just sayin’.

What’s a customer to do?  Talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about, and who asks you a million questions about your body and sleep habits.  It might be calling Customer Service at 855-377-6669, or going into a local store to find an expert that can help you.  Lie on some mattresses; see what general feel is the most comfortable to you.  Try out a few different brands, and see which ones feel better than others.  THEN, go online and find the best prices that you can (preferably on DrSnooze.com – you know that was coming). 

So good luck with your search, and take your mattress buying experience into your own hands.

5 Tips to Comparing Mattresses

I’ve written blogs and articles on different model names of mattresses before, but I’ve found that the confusion remains.  Therefore, I have created a few tips on how to “beat the system” so to speak, to make sure that you’re comparing the same models.  Remember, no one is trying to trick you, deceive you, or otherwise cheat you.  It’s just one of those things that all manufacturers do, to keep the price integrity of their mattresses. 

So, if you’re interested in comparing the same model in different places, try one of these tips:

  1. Just tell the salesperson what you saw, and where you saw it.  They will usually have comparison sheets, or be able to call a manufacturer’s representative to find out what the comparable mattress is.  Don’t be worried about them trying to sell you a different bed – most salespeople would rather have another associate at a different store do all the heavy lifting of helping you pick out the perfect bed.  It’s much easier to just undercut the price, and write up the order than to try and convince you that a different mattress is the same, or move you to a different model.
  2. Still not convinced?  Ask for the specifications.  Most retailers will have sheets that have all of the layers of the interiors of the mattresses.  If the inner layers of mattresses are EXACTLY the same, in the same order, and of the same quantity, it’s the same bed.
  3. You can always call the manufacturer, and they may be able to help you.  This is a good idea when you cannot seem to find the same bed anywhere else.  The manufacturer can look up the mattress by the model number (which is on the law tag of the bed), and check to make sure that it’s a current year model.  They can also tell you if that store has exclusive rights to that bed, which is why you may not be able to find it anywhere else.
  4. Some stores may have exclusive features on their beds, such as upgraded covers.  Usually, these are superficial additions, and should not factor in to your price comparison.  Sure, a cotton stretch cover in a beautiful weave is great, but is it going to make you sleep $100 better?  Probably not.
  5. There are websites (like this one) that will post as many alternate names for their products as they can find.  It’s usually an attempt to create transparency, and show that their prices are truly the best.  Again, there is no reason to deceive the public on this – retailers want their sales to stay sold, and want to avoid costly exchanges and returns.      

Overall, if you want to compare the same mattresses at different retailers, it is possible with a little help from the retailer themselves.  Most stores are more than willing to help you, if they think that they can earn your business. 

Great Mattress Expectations

I’m a firm believer of people doing what they say that they are going to do.  There is nothing worse than not meeting expectations.  I was thinking about this today, and believe that this idea extends to mattresses.  What expectations should you have from your mattress, and what is just wishful thinking?

Once you go out and survive the selection process, you really want to believe that you’ve purchased the perfect mattress, and that it will solve all of your sleeping problems.  Here are some tips so that you won’t be let down after that first night:

  • Chances are, you’re not going to fall in love with your new mattress the first night.  In fact, you might not sleep really well.  Your body is used to the certain feel and support level that your old mattress was giving (or not!), and adjusting to a new mattress may take a little time.  We recommend that you sleep on the bed for at least fourteen days before deciding if it’s the one for you or not.
  • A mattress is not a miracle worker.  It’s not going to fix your slipped disc, or make your fifty year old body feel like it’s twenty again.  You’re not going to wake up feeling great after a day of yard work outside, no matter how expensive your mattress is.  Your fibromyalgia will not miraculously disappear, and it’s probably not going to make your spouse stop snoring.  It will, however, help you stay comfortable and supported, for long term well-being.
  • When you sit on the side of a mattress, it’s going to depress.  Period.  If you purchased a soft mattress, the edge support is going to match the feel of the bed.  If the edge was super hard, and the rest of the mattress was soft, you’d be sleeping uphill.  Edge support is meant to be durable, not necessarily firm.  Some hard mattresses may have very firm edge support, but most beds do not.  It’s all about durability, not feel, when it comes to edge support.
  • Mattresses with a significant amount of padding, such as pillow tops, euro tops, and box tops are going to develop body impressions.  They are completely normal.  They don’t change the support or the feel, they don’t mean that the bed is failing, and they don’t denote a defect.  Foam is soft and porous.  If you put 150lbs of anything on a piece of foam for eight hours a night, every night, for ten years, it would probably leave an imprint.  Beds are no different.  Only when the coil system sags is there a difference in the feel and support of the bed (which of course is covered by your manufacturer’s warranty).
  • Buy what is the most comfortable for YOU.  Don’t buy a particular model because your sister has one and likes it, and don’t let the salesperson steer you to a different bed than the one that you really like the feel of.  No one is sleeping on this bed but you, and you know your body the best.
  • Finally, my pet peeve – don’t expect a cheap mattress to perform the same way as an expensive mattress will,  There are HUGE differences between price ranges.  Don’t expect a cheap bed to last for ten years, and always feel great.  If you want to get a lot out of your bed, you’ve got to put at least something into it.

Bottom line, a new mattress isn’t going to solve all of your problems.  It can, however, ease some pain, help you sleep better, keep you cooler at night, even keep you from tossing and turning.  Keeping your expectations realistic can really help you have a positive bedding experience, and be satisfied with your purchase.

A Latex Mattress Can Help You Go Green

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Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on going “green” and returning to more natural ways of living.  I’ll admit, it’s important to me too, and I buy organic produce and meats, prefer real sugar to sweeteners, and dress in all natural fibers like cotton and wool.  We don’t use chemical cleaners in our home in favor of vinegar and citrus, and we’re looking into purchasing a hybrid vehicle.  Usually, all this natural stuff can be significantly more expensive than the traditional man-made items.  Do you need to spend $5,000 on a specially made organic mattress?  Not when you can get a great latex mattress for less than you think.

Organic BedsWhether it’s an allergy issue, product sensitivities, or you just like the idea of knowing what is in your home and on your body, the next step to purifying your life might just be your mattress.  It can be hard (and ridiculously expensive) to go out and find an all organic mattress (and they might not be too comfortable either).  While we don’t have an all cotton or all wool mattress, we do have choices that can be healthier for the environment, as well as healthier for you.  Check it out:

  • We have a variety of latex mattresses from Nature’s Way and King Koil Contour Response.  These mattresses have no coils, they have a base foam instead, with layers of latex atop that base foam to add support and comfort.
  • Within the King Koil Contour Response Collection, the Opulent and the Essence are all latex.  They have a 7″ Dunlop (man-made) latex core, with Talalay (natural, as in Latex Mattressfrom the tree) latex padding layers.  The Glorious, Harmonious, and Lavish have the same Dunlop core and Talalay padding, but they also have memory foam padding layers also, which is a man-made polyurethane foam.
  • Some of our mattresses, such as the Renaissance Euro Box Top, have bamboo covers.  Bamboo is soft, resilient, breathable, and renewable.
  • If you don’t mind man-made, but don’t want all the toxic chemicals, Comforpedic may be your brand.  Their entire line-up of memory foam beds are CertiPUR-US certified, which indicates that there are no toxic or questionable materials within their mattresses.  They are also great because they last for so long (they have 25-year warranties), you won’t have to replace (and throw out) the mattress for almost twice as long as a regular bed.
  • Concerned about polyurethane foams?  There may be some off-gassing, it’s just part of the process.  However, King Koil’s Everlast foam (which is in almost all of their beds) is 58% soy based, so it’s a more natural polyurethane than is offered by other brands.

There are many options to try to rid your life of unhealthy chemicals and processes, and more are coming out every day.  We will keep you updated as we get new “green” beds in.

The Best Mattress for You AND Your Partner, Together

I have told my customers hundreds of times “finding the best mattress for you is the most difficult thing that you can shop for”.  There are so many different choices, you’re never sure if you’re getting a good deal, and how are you supposed to know if you’ve got the best mattress until you’ve been sleeping on it for a few weeks?  As difficult as each of those problems are, to me, there is an even more difficult facet of buying a mattress.

Compromise.

Many, if not most, of our customers are couples that both sleep on the same bed.  And while the dynamics of every relationship are different, there is usually a “decider” and a “go-along”.  This “go-along” often says that they can sleep on anything, that the “decider” has worse back problems, or that their comfort isn’t as important as the “decider’s”.

Is Your Mattress the Best Mattress for You?Alright, “go-alongs”:  I am as much of a fan of choosing your battles as the next person, but this is a battle worth choosing.  Why?

  1. You are going to spend a THIRD of your life on this mattress, for the next ten years.  Don’t you deserve to be comfortable, as much as your partner?  If there is a possibility, even if it’s slight, that you won’t sleep well for TEN years, isn’t it worth looking into?  That’s 29,200 hours of tossing and turning.  You deserve the best mattress for your body type and support needs.
  2. Your partner’s back might be worse now, but who’s to say that yours won’t catch up?  Or that your hip and shoulder pain is less important?  Or that you won’t DEVELOP back pain from sleeping on a mattress that isn’t the best for you?
  3. One word: RESENTMENT.  If you’re not sleeping well, you will resent your partner for not only choosing the bed, but for sleeping well on it while you’re up at night.

Not to worry, if there cannot be a happy medium, there are other solutions that don’t involve separate bedrooms.  Here are some ideas so that everyone can be happy, rested, and pain free:

  • Beautyrest makes beds that have a softer side and a firmer side, but not for long.  It was last year’s feature, and isn’t available for this year’s models.  Call us for details and to see if they’re still available.
  • Memory foam is great for people who need different levels of support, or are of Your Best Mattress May Be Two Instead of One!different body types.  The memory foam responds to your body’s unique curves, and gives everyone unique support, complete pressure relief, and a motion free sleep.  One mattress may be the best mattress for everyone!
  • If you’re buying a king, you may want to consider two twin extra-long beds placed next to each other on a frame.  This set up is exactly the same dimensions as a king size, so your sheets and covers won’t be different.  We even have a device that will strap them together, and fill in the center crevice, called a Create-a-King.  We can help you select mattresses that will be the same height, and that way each person has their own unique feel and support.  This idea is also used all the time with adjustable bases…

So for all you “go-along” partners, remember that you deserve to be comfortable too.  Sure, there are times that giving in is easier than fighting for what you really want, and I’m a big proponent of letting everyone win every once in a while.  But don’t forget that this new purchase is a mattress, and can make your life great, or really exhausting and uncomfortable.  Your choice.

Two-Sided Mattresses versus One-Sided: The Showdown

Mattress buying is tricky, especially since everything has changed since the last time that you had to buy one.  The most glaring example?  Two-sided mattresses.  I cannot tell you how many times PER DAY I have to explain why the new one-sided mattresses are not just a two-sided mattress cut in half.  So, to save my voice, and my sanity, here’s my speech on why one-sided mattresses are not just as good as the old two-sideds, but better.

  • Lifting and flipping a queen or king sized mattress is difficult, and can be dangerous. Additionally, mattresses are made with denser materials now, so they are even heavier.  No one should be lifting a 300 lb mattress and trying to flip it over.  Dragging them around from head to toe is much easier, and may not even be required, depending on the manufacturer.
  • Did you know that you were supposed to be flipping those two-sided mattresses once every two months?  Did you ever do it that frequently?  I didn’t think so.  Since your mattress was designed to be flipped frequently, and it wasn’t, you were putting more wear than the manufacturer designed the bed for, and probably increased their warranty return percentage.
  • Think about a coil system.  Are they more steady sitting on a firm, flat surface, or a bumpy, soft surface?  You can get more even and consistent back support by placing the coils on a firm foundation, instead of balancing them on the other side of a soft cushion.
  • Pillow tops are meant to be soft and conforming.  Would you smash yours underneath 250 lbs of mattress, and 300 lbs of sleepers for half the time?  How do you think that it would maintain it’s loft?  No one wants a dense pancake pillow top.
  • Flammability standards have changed in the past ten years.  Now, each mattress has to have a certain fire retardant fiber underneath the cover on all sides of the mattress.  Only one company makes this fiber, and it’s not cheap.  By making the mattresses one sided, manufacturers only had to use that fiber on the top and sides of the mattress, since the bottom of the mattress is flush with the foundation.  Instead of increasing each queen set by $300, they only increased by $200.

Those are just a few reasons why you need a one-sided mattress, I’m sure that there are more technical support issues, but these are the ones that make the most sense to me.  Of course, if you’re still a die-hard two-sided mattress fan, we still carry them, made by American Bedding.  Check out the Crest Plush or call us at 855-377-6669 to see what other models we have at the time.

Mattress Reviews

m_beautyrest Stack_01A customer said to me the other day: “I’m not making a decision to buy this mattress until I read some reviews on it.”  What?  I understand not wanting to rush into a decision, and I’m not one to pressure anyone into buying today, but mattress reviews?  What does someone else’s opinion have to do with you?  Sure, if they’re commenting on durability, how long it kept it’s feel, how good (or bad) the customer service was from the manufacturer or the dealer, that information might be useful.  But whether they liked it or not?  No offense to the customer, but here are a few reasons why I think that relying on reviews is ridiculous:

  • Most product reviews are negative.  This is because people are more likely to complain than compliment, especially if they are uncomfortable.  This kind of skews the results.
  • Reviewers don’t include their weight distribution.  The reviewer might be 350 lbs, and 5’2, while you might be 160 lbs and 5’10.  What that reviewer said was way too soft, might be perfect for you.  Additionally, if they reviewed that the edge support crunches after a year, that might be from wear, and it might not happen to you.
  • I’ve read a lot of mattress reviews on websites that say “exactly as described”.  The problem with this is that the description is subjective.  What might feel “plush” to one person, might feel “super plush” to another.  While we strive to have uniformity in our categories, as well as describe the mattress as well as possible, that reviewers opinion might be different than yours.
  • Finally, everyone’s body reacts differently.  What aligned your spine might not align someone else’s.  Therefore, someone submitting a mattress review that states “very supportive” is telling you how it affected their back.  This might, or might not, have the same effect on yours.

On our website, we still publish all the reviews that come in, good or bad.  We do this because some people are really dependent on reviews to reinforce their decision, and we’d like to help with that.  However, remember the points above, and read mattress reviews with a grain of salt.  You never know, that badly reviewed mattress may be the mattress of your dreams.

The Best Mattress – Direct From Consumer Reports

As I was surfing the net a few days ago, doing my “research”, I ran across a video about Consumer Reports actually testing mattresses.  Up until now, they’ve had the stance that they cannot recommend a specific model or brand because everyone needs something different, support and comfort wise.  Now, they are apparently having people lay on them and rate them, put them through virtual wear and tear tests, and measuring the disturbance between partners.  Which is the best mattress?  Check it out below:

 

First, the good news – Simmons has been rated the number one innerspring mattress, followed by a Serta model, and a Stearns and Foster in third.  As you already know, I’m a huge Simmons fan, because of their support system, durability, and quality of craftsmanship, so this was no surprise to me.  The one that they tested, while I’m not sure of the model, was probably at the beginning of the Classic line-up, so it had all the guts, but none of the thrills.  Regardless, I’m happy that Beautyrest has received their due and got the best mattress designation, even if they didn’t show up on the memory foam section…

I find a few flaws with this particular endeavor by Consumer Reports.  First, how long did these testers actually lay on the bed?  Did they have back pain?  How does that translate to eight hours a night for ten years?  Were they average sized, overweight, short, tall?  Did they use a variety of different body types and medical issues?  Do they tell you this?  I couldn’t find out myself, because I don’t subscribe to Consumer Reports, so I couldn’t access the whole report.  But when you think about it, I think that probably most people don’t subscribe, so they’re just going to go off of the top three best mattresses that were on the news, and not know the rest of the story.  Did they test every manufacturer, and every model?  Which did they test?  The news story stated that they would be doing more testing and releasing more results in the near future, so I’m sure that they didn’t cover all of the bases.  Finally, are they going to be doing this every year, since models change every year?

I do think that the durability testing and motion disturbance testing is valuable.  Manufacturers have long done durability testing on their own beds, to improve their warranty exchange rates, and it’s great to have an independent third party doing it.

It’s a step in the right direction, but far from perfect.  However, I applaud Consumer Reports for wading into the murky waters of mattresses, and trying to recommend the best mattress for the masses.