Casco Bay Furniture – What Mattress Should I Buy?

I’ve been noticing lately when I wake up I’ve been feeling kind of tired, my back aches and I don’t seem to have the bounce in my step that I used to. The Wife says I often wake her up with my tossing and turning. It occurred to me that perhaps it was my mattress and decided to have a look. What I saw when I removed the sheets and mattress pad was a 20-year-old mattress that looked like the Grand Canyon. At Casco Bay Furniture, we don’t sell bedding, so the Wife and I set out to buy a new bed.

The first store we came to was absolutely gorgeous. Everyone in the bedding department was wearing white coats. I asked a young man who waited on us, why the white coats? “We’re doctors of sleep.” I looked at the wife and rolled my eyes. We went through that store and then visited several other stores. We saw “ Posturepedic”, “Tempurpedic”, “Chiropedic,”and at one store, we saw a “Ralphopedic.”

We saw mattresses with Marvelous Middles, Beautyrest’s, coil mattresses, foam mattresses, memory foam mattresses, mattresses made from Tempur material, Latex mattresses, Gel mattresses. I was really confused. Finally, I said to the Wife,“this is going to require some research.” I decided to call an old friend, Daniel, who I knew to be an expert in the bedding industry. (This interview is kind of long, but I decided to include it all here as I think you will find it very helpful.)

Daniel, how long have you been in the industry?
I started in the industry in 1963, but didn’t really get involved in bedding until 1971. I trained in Sealy, Simmons and Serta, known in the industry as the three ‘S’s. Just around this time, the first high-end bedding was introduced. It was called “Heirloom,” later to be known as “E.F. Luft” and I was trained in this as well. This bedding was the Number 1 brand of celebrities. If you shopped on Rodeo Drive, you owned one of these beds.

Shortly thereafter, I became the bedding buyer of a major retailer. I soon recognized that the popular brands, of which there were now many, were at best fair mattresses. We ran into numerous problems with warranty issues. These companies sold on name and reputation, but in fact, rather than being in the business of making great mattresses, they were marketing companies. The quality wasn’t as good as I thought. With my boss’s permission, I decided to look outside the box. I found smaller companies that used better materials. Here’s the key: what’s inside your mattress…quality components.

Do you have to spend a lot to get a good set of bedding?
There is a concept that the more you spend on bedding, the better your set will be. Nothing is farther from the truth. What is more important,as I said, is the quality of the components and the quality of the foam. If your bed has coils, the foam is more important.

Today, I own bedding stores. In our stores, if someone is looking to spend a lot on a mattress, we take them to the back of the store where we have a $25,000 set of bedding manufactured by Hypnos. This is a beautiful set of bedding and we do sell it, but of course, very few people can afford to spend $25,000 on a set of bedding.

By the way Haften just introduced a $49,000 mattress and Magni-Flex has a $75,000 set of bedding. Consumers can relate to high end products, with a $60,000 car in the driveway, Armani suits for men, or Cartier diamonds. But bedding is viewed as a commodity. Now you don’t have to spend $25,000 on a set of bedding, but you do have to take bedding more seriously.

Why is having a good mattress so important?
Most bedding purchases are made by women.The problem here is the female body leans towards pillow tops. The female likes a soft mattress. The men say “I don’t care.” In the end, the weight of the men’s body will compromise the foam. You will end up sleeping in a mattress with body impressions or sleeping in a hole.

You must direct questions of weight to how long your mattress will last. We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping — 10 years out of 30. We are creatures of habit.We sleep in the same spot and, as a result, will get severe body impressions that will affect one’salignment and ultimately health. I always say “a mattress is for two”.

If you are out of alignment, you will wake up sore, tired and you will toss and turn all night. The average person tosses and turns 80 to 85 times a night. Someone with health issues can toss and turn hundreds of times. After 35 years of age, our body changes every five years and we become more aware of the soreness of our bodies. Osteoporosis, arthritis and fibromyalgia are all directly affected by your mattress.

The lack of sleep is the number two reason for auto accidents after cell phones. We are a sleep deprived nation. We suffer the consequences due to the lack of sleep. Lack of sleep, leaves you tired, irritable, and contributes to disease, such as diabetes. You are less productive. We sleep less than our neighbors in Canada and Europe. The more you keep your body in alignment, the more comfortable you will be. In my opinion, the only thing more important than food and shelter is the bed you sleep on. Remember you spend one third of your life in bed.

Daniel that is very profound. I never thought of how important my mattress was. Tell me about the different types of bedding. How can I decide what to get?

The Innerspring…
The helical spring is used in the construction of all coil mattresses. It’s a series of coils attached with wire. The price range of helical mattresses runs from $299 to $2999.

Personally, I don’t like them at all. Coils do nothing more than fill up the mattress. They are comprised of two parts: the support system, which in this case are the springs, and the comfort layers. Over time, as you get closer to the coils, your body will come in contact with pressure points. In my opinion, if I were going to buy a coil mattress, I would buy a pocketed coil.

As far as coils go, all the bedding companies used springs primary sold by three companies, Leggett and Platt, HickorySprings and a third smaller company, the name of which escapes me. Most manufacturers of coil spring bedding will have proprietary names to their bedding based on slight modifications of the spring. So brand “A” is called such and such, as it has a little bend in the top of the Helical. Brand “B” uses double offset coils with the coils turned in different directions.

All manufacturers of coil mattresses use some variation of the comfort layer over the Helicals. Some will make it thicker, some will use better fabric or trim and then they use a variety of foam. In all honesty, bedding is less of a mystery than people think.

Foam is my favorite…In my opinion, the ultimate in comfort with the minimum of pressure is found in a foam mattress. Tempurpedic has revolutionized the industry. Many laughed at it when it first came out. But today, it is recognized as having the most satisfied customer of any bedding product ever sold. They sell anywhere from $2000 to $8000, and it’s all foam. An all foam mattress has different components. You have a base layer of foam, with different types of foam on top of it.

What are the different types of foam mattresses?
The least costly is the all foam core with a polyurethane top covered by a quilted cover. The key here is the quality of the foam used. Generally a queen bed made in this manner will run about $799. A better quality product will use higher density base foam with premium foam on top.

Next is a poly foam core with a Viscous elastic memory foam top which can vary from 1” to 2” to 3”. These will run from $899 to $2000. Here again the quality and density of the foam will determine the quality of the mattress.

Next is a poly core with a latex top of 1” to 2” to 3” top. These will run from $999 to $2199.

The most discerning buyer will purchase an all Latex mattress from $2000 on up. The support system is latex as well as the comfort layer. These are made by many companies.

I sleep on a Tempurpedic. This mattress has a high grade polyfoam base with the tempur material on top of it. They range from very soft to firm and can have from 2” to 4” of tempur materials. I believe that Tempurpedic is one of the best options available. The tempur material is a propriety blend known only to a handful of people.

What do I like about this mattress? There is no motion transfer by a moving partner. Pressure points are reduced substantially with results in a reduction of pressure points. Tempurpedic contours to every part of your body.

Gel Mattresses…What Dr. Scholl did for the human foot, Gel mattresses have done for mattresses. The gel mattress is for those people that sleep hot. It provides a cool sleeping surface.You will not feel the heat that can generate in a foam mattresses.

What about the foam mattress imported from China?
I do not sell imported mattresses in my stores for several reasons. Most importantly is the quality of the components. No-one makes a better mattress than we manufacturer in this country. Also, I want to support American workers and the only benefit, in my opinion, to the imported mattress is that the retailer will make more profit and the customers will pay less. In the end, the consumer will pay more from the standpoint of health and the longevity of the product.

Daniel, how can I decide what to buy?
Now you have some information on how to make an informed decision. You have heard my opinions, but as I said, these are my opinions based on my own research and my years in the industry. Others may have other opinions.

Here’s what you do next when you go back to the bedding stores where you have shopped. Don’t ask what the best seller is. In our stores, we won’t tell a customer what our best seller is. Rather, we show our customers the different types of bedding and we do carry all the types mentioned above including a good selection of coil mattresses. We then educate our customers on the features and benefits of each. We tell our customers to take off their coats, take off their sweaters and we ask them to lie on every mattress they might consider for at least five minutes. We will not sell any customer a set of bedding, if they don’t lie on it for at least 5 minutes.

In the end, after the customer is educated and they have tried the various mattresses under consideration, they must ultimately make that decision for themselves.

Daniel, this has really been an education. I am sure our readers from Lets Talk Furniture and Casco Bay Furniture will find the knowledge you have passed on valuable. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  1. What a great blog

    • Stacy thank you. Daniel, the person interviewed really understands bedding from a perspective not often seen in the industry. His insightful observations and common sense approach makes the purchase of bedding, often seen as a purchase filled with pitfalls and confusion, relatively straightforward.

  2. Hi. Thanks for your informative review. Could you share more thoughts about natural latex? I’m interested in it because I have concerns about foam off-gassing. We are breathing all night long with our faces very close to our mattresses, and I don’t want my mattress to emit anything that might be toxic. Do you have any recommendations for people with this type of concern?

    • Amy,
      Latex is available in both a natural and synthetic blend. Although many prefer the natural version the synthetic blend has been shown in some studies to be more durable. From a practical standpoint it is also less expensive. I personally prefer the 100% natural latex blend as it remains more supple and I feel it is more “green”. Although not a chemist, in my opinion the natural and blended versions have both tested well from a safety perspective but I have no real statistics on this and you would be advised to research this further.
      Yours truly,

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