Time to Test Drive a New Mattress?

If you are tossing and turning at night or waking up sore and stiff, it may be time to consider the purchase of a fresh mattress.  With so many new materials and construction options on the market, it can be difficult to determine what is the right mattress for an optimal night’s sleep.  Here are a few tips that may help, especially if you are shopping online rather than trying out mattresses in person. 

Memory foam is a popular newer material for mattresses that helps to reduce pressure on joints and the back but they can be warm, so if you tend to boil over at night, be sure to look for one that has a cooling gel.  Many memory foam mattresses on the market can be shipped right to your door and will expand within several hours of opening the packaging.  Some come with a lengthy trial period so you can return any mattress that doesn’t meet your needs, free of charge.  

According to a recent AARP report, traditional mattresses are constructed with steel coils that can cause pressure points.  They are bouncier than foam which may help older adults get up more easily from bed but they will also make tossing and turning from a partner noticeable on the other side of the mattress as well.   Many newer mattresses are a hybrid of inner coils with a layer of memory foam on top to help reduce sleep disruption and provide more cushion. 

A third option is an adjustable bed that allows sleepers to alter the firmness on either side of the bed; the head or the foot of each side can also be elevated or lowered independently on some models.  Adjustable beds use air pockets surrounded by foam to customize support making these beds a good choice for couples with different needs, arthritis, or back and neck pain.  But most adjustable beds do not come cheap. Be prepared to spend anywhere from around $1,000 for a basic bed to upwards of $4,000 for a cooling foam “smart bed” that automatically adjusts to your movements. 

It was once believed that a very firm mattress was best for low-back pain but a medium-firm mattress with good support that is easy on the hips, shoulders, and other joints may be more comfortable.  If you do decide to test-drive a mattress in person, bring a pillow from home and give each alternative several minutes; and ask lots of questions.   If a new mattress is not in the budget at the moment, a foam mattress topper can rejuvenate an older mattress making the climb into bed a bit more luxurious and getting up in the morning a tad easier.  

We all need a good night’s sleep more than ever in these stressful times and in addition to finding the perfect pea-free mattress, don’t forget to practice good sleep hygiene.  Turn off screens an hour before sleep, keep devices out of the bedroom, and try to create a relaxing evening ritual.  A warm bath or a cup of tea while reading a chapter of your latest book club selection should do the trick or experiment with a sleep, meditation, or relaxation app like Calm to help quiet a busy mind.