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Product Reviews

Avoid buyer’s remorse when purchasing a mattress

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Getting a good night’s rest doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Consumer Reports’ most recent test of mattresses found models that performed well and cost under $1,000.

Consumer Reports tested 12 models from Ikea, Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Stearns & Foster, and Tempur-Pedic, plus Costco’s Novaform brand. Simmons’ performance varied the most. The manufacturer’s Beautyrest Glover Park Firm Pillowtop (sold at Sears), a Best Buy at $780, topped the Ratings of conventional, innerspring mattresses while its ComforPedic Loft Crestwood Luxury Plush, $1,920, earned the lowest scores among foam models and overall.

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Overall, foam models fared a bit worse than innerspring mattresses in the tests. The recommended Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Simplicity, $1,200, earned the highest scores. But Sleep Innovations Novafoam Memory Foam Collection Serafina (Costco), a Best Buy at $900, virtually tied the Tempur-Pedic for $300 less.

When it comes to mattress shopping, roughly 40 percent of surveyed subscribers said they had buyer’s remorse. Consumer Reports has some helpful tips.

Five tips for choosing a new mattress

Consumer Reports’ latest tests confirm that more coils, fancier fabrics, and frills found on pricier models don’t guarantee a better mattress. And the best mattress isn’t always necessarily the firmest, even for those who suffer from pain.

Try before buying. Don’t rely on softness or firmness claims — nearly half the mattresses tested were softer than promised. Gauge comfort by lying on any mattress in consideration. Spend at least 10 minutes on each side, back, and stomach — depending on typical sleep position.

Win the name game. Mattress makers offer some lines nationally. Those available at major retailers like Macy’s, Sears, and Sleepy’s are typically exclusive to those chains. And because retailers often change model names, it’s hard to compare models store to store so use Consumer Reports’ performance ratings as a guide.

Consider the winter months. Using a temperature-controller chamber, the tests found three innerspring and three memory-form mattresses that were better at retaining body heat, which should help keep users warm when the weather turns cold without feeling clammy when it’s hot.

Keep an old box spring if possible. Replacing the box spring that goes beneath a mattress can cost anywhere from $150 to more than $300.

For those swapping out an innerspring mattress for a new one, keep the box spring if it is not sagging or damaged. If switching to memory foam, a solid platform may be necessary to provide enough support.

However, for both foam and innerspring mattresses, some brands require consumers to purchase their box spring purchase to receive the full warranty.

Don’t forget to haggle. Most mattresses have huge markups that allow retailers to run frequent “sales” of up to 50 percent off. But don’t wait for a promotion to save — one-third of Consumer Reports’ subscribers who haggled slashed $150 or more off the price.

Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at consumerreports.org.
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