5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports Offers Tips for Mattress Shopping

Posted June 14, 2007 8:38 p.m. EDT

— How well did you sleep last night? If the answer is not so well, maybe you need a new mattress.

A good mattress is critical for getting a good night's sleep. But shopping for one can be confusing. There are so many decisions to make, such as coil count, price and feel.

Consumer Reports recently took on the task of mattress shopping.

"There's an incredible range of mattress prices,” said Mandy Walker, with Consumer Reports. ”For a queen size, you can pay anywhere from $600 to thousands of dollars."

Consumer Reports says manufacturers generally slice the mattress market into four price categories. Promotional mattresses go for $500 or less, premium for $500 to $1,000, luxury for $1,000 to $2,000 and ultra luxury for $2,000 and up.

“Once you're familiar with the industry's price categories, you can do some comparison shopping within those ranges,” Walker said.

Consumer Reports found furniture stores tend to beat bedding specialists. For example, a median price for a queen-size mattress is $600 at a furniture store and $720 at bedding specialists.

But specialty shops like Sleepy's or Dial-a-Mattress offer deep discounts and usually offer better sales help.

Consumer Reports found that you don't have to pay top dollar to get a comfortable mattress. Extensive testing shows all but the cheapest mattresses are fine for most people, and really high coil counts are overkill. But most importantly, never buy a mattress without trying it out first.

“You want to take off your shoes and spend at least 15 minutes actually lying on the bed,” Walker said. “Five minutes per side, five minutes on your back. And if you spend any time sleeping on your stomach, five minutes in that position, too."

Consumer Reports says most mattresses need to be replaced after eight years.