The Wall Street Journal recently had an article on the difficulty of shopping for a mattress. Journalist Jane Hodges writes about the different methods some vendors use in finding the right mattress for the consumer:

Some stores had fun gimmicks to help us decide. At Ikea, a computerized quiz asked about our sleep position (side, back or stomach), whether we’re usually hot or cold while sleeping and our body shape and weight, then recommended four out of 10 available models. At Sleepy’s, our sales rep let us test as many beds as we liked and also gave us a diagnostic test: We had to lie on a bed in different positions while a computer took measurements.

The other three stores focused on mattress-testing the old-fashioned way: Lie down and imagine how it would feel to stay there all night…

The basic theme of the piece, shopping for a mattress can frustrating. All this reiterates the need for consumers to educate themselves before shopping for a new mattress, and to carefully read the policies at whichever vendor they choose.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 24, 2010

Eco-Friendly Mattresses?

ecofriendlyWith the push for all things “green”, there are many manufacturers and vendors are claiming their products are “eco-friendly” and even “organic”.  The fact of the matter is that very few, if any, mattress are truly “organic” in any sense of the word. While many of these “green” beds are made of natural ingredients, those ingredients may come at the expensive of a forest.  Also, to improve the longevity of the bed and sterilize them, many of these supposedly organic components are saturated in the same chemicals vendors claim are harmful.

Some manufacturers may claim their products are  “certified” organic, but that certification may apply to only one or more materials in the mattress (for example the cotton) and unless that certification comes from the US Department of Agriculture, it’s not truly certified. The fact is no government agency regulates the labeling of mattresses as “organic” or “natural” and trade groups like International Sleep Products Association provide no guidelines to their members in using such terms.

One vendor, who claims to be an “eco-friendly mattress store”, offers mattresses made from a product they claim is “BioFoam” which is made of 12% castor bean oil (the same oil from which the poison Sarin is derived) and the other 88% is made of traditional petroleum-based foam. But keep in mind, the products used in most traditional mattresses are used in many other products common in our daily lives.  Our clothing, shoes, cars and other daily-use products like bandages contain the same kinds of materials treated in the same manner as those in traditional mattresses.

Is there truly a benefit to going “green”? Does the “green” bed provide any health benefits over traditional mattresses? Steven Safe, professor of toxicology at Texas A&M University regards traditional mattress materials as benign.  “They’re unlikely to be leaching out” he said adding that their ending up in a landfill has more impact on the environment.  “I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said, adding that manufacturers strive to reduce the presence of chemicals in mattresses. “But I don’t really see it as a safety issue.” (New York Times, 1/15/2009, The Stuff Dreams are Made of?)

Given the loose standards applied to the claims of “eco-friendliness” in the market, and the fact that most “eco-friendly” mattress are considerably more expensive than traditional beds, and the fact that so-called “green” mattresses provide little (if any) health benefits it behooves the consumer to do considerable research on the various claims of manufacturers before going green.

The Stuffing Dreams Are Made Of?The Stuff Dreams are

Posted by: greatsleep | March 23, 2010

Valuable Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Valuable Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Lifestyle designer Lissa Coffey is the spokesperson for The Better Sleep Council ( and she presents lots of valuable tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 22, 2010

How to Recycle Your Old Mattress

How to Dispose of or Recycle Your Old Mattress

A mattress can be an ecological disaster site, if not properly disposed of. We’ve all seen old beds dumped on the side of the road or hiding in a forgotten alley. Fortunately there are firms that specialize in recycling the materials from old mattresses. Few charities take used mattresses, though some provide recycling.

Most mattress vendors provide old mattress removal when a consumer purchases a new set and you should take advantage of this whenever possible as this can save you considerable cost. You might consider asking the vendor how their mattresses are disposed of, so as to be assure your mattress will find a proper, earth-friendly, disposal. Some vendors give unstained, lightly-used mattresses to specialized re-conditioners who are skilled in the cleaning and sterilizing of sleep products, however the majority of mattresses are recycled or destroyed for placement in a landfill.

On the occasion that you have a mattress to get rid of but aren’t buying a replacement set, you should contact a mattress recycling center near you to find out their policies. Recycling centers are currently located in California,  Minnesota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina as well as Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan, Canada.

If you cannot find a recycling center near you, contact a local mattress vendor and ask them where to take your old bed.



Monterey County, Salinas, Seaside
Hope Services

Contact: John Bell
Phone: 831-595-3396 Fax: 831-758-0252

DR3 Mattress Recycling
Contact: Terry McDonald
Phone: 510-351-0520 Fax: 510-351-0521

San Francisco
Use their Recycling form online to schedule.San Jose
Goodwill Industries

Contact: John Waszily
Phone: 408-869-9225

Conigliaro Industries

(Massachusetts and National)
Contact: Michelle Taparausky
Phone: 508-872-9668
Toll Free: 888-CONIG-25
Fax: 508-653-6672


Goodwill Industries
Contact: Greg Conkins
Phone: 218-722-6351  Fax: 218-772-8101

PPL Industries
Contact: Doug Jewett
Phone: 612-332-0664  Fax: 612-332-4291


Ohio Mattress Recovery
Contact: Chuck Brickman
Phone: 440-856-3685


St. Vincent de Paul
Contact: Terry McDonald
Phone: 541-687-5820  Fax: 541 683-9423

South Carolina
Nine Lives Mattress Recycling
Contact: Ralph Bogan
Phone: 843-916-9753


Contact: Mr. Erdem
Phone: 514-648-7575  Fax: 514-648-7525

Posted by: greatsleep | March 21, 2010

Washington Post Buyer’s Guide to Pillows & Mattresses

The Washington Post published a mattress and pillow buyer’s guide in January of 2009 wherein they discuss both when to buy a new mattress and pillows as well as tips for finding the right mattress. One of the big surprises in the article is that they recommend that consumers replace their mattress after 5 to 7 years.

The Post recommends new pillows for allergy sufferers, noting that dust mites can be a source of allergic reaction, as well as recommending protectors for pillows to reduce allergens as well as increasing the life-span of the pillow.

While the Post states suggests that consumers keep their old box spring if it shows “no signs of wear”, some manufacturer’s warranties require a matching box spring for full coverage.

Read the entire article here.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 20, 2010

Sleep Quality and the Common Cold

Can't SleepSleep Quality and the Common Cold

While most people realize that you need a good amount of rest when sick, a recent study in The Archives of Internal Medicine indicates just how important quality sleep is for preventing various cold-related bugs.

The study, Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold indicated that good sleep is just as important day-to-day preceding viral exposure as during an actual infection.

The study showed that there was clear association with sleep duration and incidence of catching the cold. Those with less than 7 hours of sleep per night were almost 3 times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those with a full 8 hours of sleep.

The researchers noted that the study took into account body-type, season, social status and other health-related variables so as to provide a clear link between sleep quality and susceptibility to cold viruses.

They concluded that poorer quality sleep and shorter durations before exposure to the cold likely contributed to the onset of the illness.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 19, 2010

Proactive Sleep iPhone App


The Proactive Sleep iPhone App

Daniel Gartenberg and Justin Beck met at the University of Wisconsin during a competition of  innovation held at the university and created an application that would combine science and technology to provide better quality sleep.

Proactive Sleep is an application that gives you personalized information on your sleep and is designed to promote behaviors related to getting a good night sleep.

Proactive Sleep measures the most important factors that determine your sleep pattern. Understand how these factor affect your sleep can help you take steps to improve your sleep quality.

You might even notice that the effects of one poor night of sleep can last for days. You can then make the appropriate steps to modify your behaviors.

For more information visit the Proactive Sleep website or download the ap at the iPhone Ap Store.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 18, 2010

Mattress Sizes

Mattress Sizes

All sizes ± .5"

Twin Size – 38″ x 74.5″
Twin Extra Long Size – 38″ x 79.5″
Full Size – 53″ x 74.5″
Full Extra Long Size – 53″ x 79.5″
Queen Size – 60″ x 79.5″
Eastern King Size – 76″ x 79.5″
California King Size – 72″ x 83.5″

Posted by: greatsleep | March 17, 2010

What to look for in buying a new mattress.

Buying a  New Mattress: What You Need to Know

Mattress shopping today is completely different than in the past. Just as computer technology advances every year, there are advances in mattress and box spring design that can provide consumers with new levels of comfort. There’s much more to a mattress than just the number of coils. Here is a vocabulary to help you in your search for great sleep:

Innerspring – Most mattresses sold today use tempered steel coils in different configurations to provide insulation and cushioning.  Some manufacturers offer advanced innerspring designs in order to provide a higher level of comfort and ongoing support.

Foam -Many mattresses are made of various kinds of foam laminated together whereas others are made of one kind of solid foam, offering  a variety of firmness.  Foams used can include manufactured polyurethane, natural latex and even visco-elastic memory foam to provide choices of comfort and support.

Visco Elastic (Memory) Foam – Visco-elastic, or memory foam, is many times denser than regular foam and it is temperature sensitive. Made of thousands of tiny cells which mold to any shape and revert back to their original form, visco-Elastic foam is highly resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew, and dust mites.

Bio-Foam / Eco-Foam – Relatively new, bio and eco foams replace traditional foams with manufactured foams made of materials including plant-oils. Manufacturers claim these products are better for consumers.

Airbeds – Modern airbeds look like the traditional mattresses but rely on an air-filled core to provide the support instead of an innerspring unit. This core can be dialed to the sleeper’s comfort level. While popular initially, airbeds have shown some weakness in the market due to quality issues. New technology may provide better reliability.

Adjustable Bed – Adjustable beds allow sleepers to adjust various levels of the mattress to the most comfortable position. The mattress set must be specially designed for the motion and can be a traditional innerspring, foam or a combination bed. Flexing can cause extra wear on the mattress. Therefore, quality construction is very important. Mattresses not built for this purpose should not be used with an adjustable bed frame.

Foundation/Box Springs – Proper box springs are important to quality sleep and the reliability of the mattress. The box springs take much of the wear and tear that contributes to the bed’s overall comfort and support. It is important to not put a new mattress on an old box spring, as the box springs are probably worn out. When you buy your new mattress, ask to buy the companion box springs. Buying the mattress without its matching foundation may affect the terms of the warranty!

Pillow-Top, Firm, Extra-Firm, Euro-Top!?

Firmness and comfort are some of the most hotly debated topics relating to sleep quality. Some say a firm mattress is better, others softer. The fact is, no one firmness is right for everyone. Modern mattresses come in a variety of comfort levels including firm, plush, pillow-top, extra-firm, euro-top and a combination of any of those! There is no industry-standard to the naming of mattresses, so it is important to carefully test a mattress before buying.

A Spanish study of more than 300 individuals with chronic lower-back pain tested if mattress firmness improved or exacerbated participants’ symptoms. Participants that previously slept on both very-firm and medium-firm mattresses, were asked to sleep on new, very-firm and medium-firm mattresses for 90 days. Both test groups confirmed they experienced an improvement in their level of pain. Partners of those experiencing back pain also experienced improvement as well. – Better Sleep Council

The Better Sleep Council has what it calls its SLEEP Test to assist consumers in deciding which mattress was right for them:

Select a mattress.
ie down in sleep position.
Evaluate the level of comfort and support.
Educate yourself about each selection.
Partners should shop together.

It is very important that you spend a good deal of time actually laying on the mattress. Spend at least 15 minutes evaluating a mattress you’re considering purchasing. Don’t worry about damaging the store mattress, just be sure to remove your shoes.

Read the Fine Print!

Some vendors provide a “sleep guarantee”, where you can return a mattress after trying it out for a number of nights, however the process is usually difficult and may cause additional sleepless nights! Vendors are also required to return those mattresses for reconditioning by the manufacturer and may require a restocking fee from the consumer to cover their costs. Few vendors allow outright returns on mattresses because of comfort issues.  Be very selective in your mattress decision.

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Most vendors are having some sort of sale all the time.  Sales can sometimes provide true savings for you, if you know what to look for.  The most common sales are “tax free”, “free financing” and % off sales. All of these types of sales have benefits and cautions. Tax free or “no tax” sales often provide the best price. The vendor often gives the lowest price possible, with taxes built-into the price to provide a good value. While the consumer may have less negotiating power during such sales, they often get a better value.

Free financing sales can provide those with less immediate income the ability to get a better quality mattress set.  New federal financing rules (2010) prohibit vendors from providing “no payment” financing, limiting the immediate savings of such sales. Remember however, when financing any product, there can be hidden costs associated with financing that may increase the final price of the product. Vendors may be required by their financing bank to charge higher-than-average percentage rates on products not paid off during the special financing period. Read the fine print carefully!

Many people are unaware that mattress have built-in margins in their price to provide the vendor with some revenue. You should be able to negotiate with a salesperson over the price of a mattress set. However, some manufacturers have exclusive contracts and limit the leeway a vendor has in price. Consider that the vendor may have a similar mattress from a different manufacturer at a better price. While mattress salesmen are sometimes considered akin to used car salesmen, keep in mind that they’re people, just like yourself, working to make a living.


It is important that you inspect the mattress upon delivery to confirm there are no stains, scuffs or defects. Many manufacturers will not honor warranties on mattresses that are stained. (Obviously, such a discussion can quickly become distasteful.) Remember to purchase and immediately install a mattress protector to prevent any damage to the set. Some vendors provide “protection plans” which include a mattress protector which increases the warranty coverage.


Give your new mattress set a few weeks break-in period to adjust to your body. Keep in mind that body impressions in a new mattress are normal, to an extent, but remember to rotate your mattress regularly on the vendors recommendation and read the warranty information that came with the product. Most manufacturers provide only single-sided mattresses these days, therefore you no longer have to flip the bed. If body impressions become permanent and deep, contact the vendor immediately to have your bed inspected for warranty issues.

While your first few nights on your new bed might not be the best, as both you and your bed become used to each other, you should still notice increased restfulness and comfort.

Posted by: greatsleep | March 16, 2010

When Should I Buy a New Mattress?

When Should I Buy a New Mattress?

Some products let you know when it is time to be replaced. Broken, worn out and torn, products tell you its time for a new one. But a mattress and box springs aren’t always so obvious. Like a worn pair of shoes or a old chair, a mattress can still feel comfortable long after it stopped  providing the proper support and comfort. Since sleep is critical to our ability to function and feel our best, it is important to evaluate your mattress set regularly.

Signs that you may need a new mattress set:

  • You wake up tired, stiff, or numb or with aches and pains
  • You sleep better somewhere other than your own bed (such as a hotel mattress)
  • Your mattress set shows signs of age (sags, lumps, parts exposed, etc.)
  • Your mattress is 5 – 7 years old

These are indicators that you need a new mattress set. Next time we’ll look at what to look for in buying a new mattress.