Chances are, you don't sleep as well as you'd like and suspect your mattress may be to blame. Want some good news? You don't necessarily have to spend top-dollar to get a good night's sleep. That's what our subscribers told us about their 17,500 experiences buying and sleeping on mattresses in a new survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Based on their responses, we have Ratings of the top mattress brands and retailers—the results may surprise you.
Spending 10 minutes or longer on a mattress in the store is the best way to find a comfortable mattress, our readers reported. But some retailers, such as Costco and Sam's Club, don't have a section where mattresses are laid out for sampling. Others, such as Denver Mattress, Original Mattress Factory, and Sleep Train, are regional—helpful if that's where you live. We're planning another mattress report for next year in which we'll test a variety of mattresses for some of the criteria most associated with comfort. In the meantime, here are a few tips on how to choose the best mattress.
Be sure it's the mattress. If your mattress is at least eight years old and you're not sleeping as well as you used to or you wake up aching, it might be time for a new mattress. But you don't want to spend the money to find you're sleeping no better. Other factors, such as diet, exercise, and health conditions (including allergies and sleep apnea), could be the cause of your tossing and turning.
Look beyond inner-spring. Two-thirds of the readers who bought an inner-spring mattress, about half of respondents, were satisfied. But those who bought a memory-foam (for example, Tempur-Pedic) or an adjustable-air (Select Comfort) mattress were more likely to report they were sleeping better. Granted, these newer types aren't for everyone: In a past report, 36 percent of readers didn't like the way memory foam felt on their body.
Think twice about big names. If you haven't shopped for a mattress in years, the brand names that come to mind will likely be the ones most widely advertised—think Serta and Sealy. And if you live in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic, you'll probably think of Sleepy's, perhaps the biggest advertiser of mattress sellers in that 13-state region. Take one look at our survey results, though, and you might be looking for the nearest Ikea instead.