By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


We bought a new mattress last week.  For those of you who have not ventured into the nightmare that is mattress shopping I have one piece of advice – DON”T.  We put off buying one as long as we could but my aching back required some relief.  Thus began the “mattresses shopping experience”.  I have to admit, a lot has changed since we bought our last mattress 17 years ago.  The Mattress Manufacturers Association suggests you buy a new one every 8-10 years.  So we were a little overdue.  We did buy one of those foam mattress toppers about eight years ago which over time has developed a decidedly large hump down the middle.  It looks like we’re trying to hide an elephant.  My husband has been perfectly comfortable with this situation but I think “the hump” was getting to him too.

So on a rainy Sunday afternoon we traipsed down to our local mattress store.  I did a bit of research ahead of time – I was not going to let some slick salesman bamboozle me into buying more mattress than I needed.  I was under the naïve impression that reading Consumer Reports would protect me from being the lamb going to slaughter.  I was wrong.  The first thing I learned is that there is a very wide variety of mattresses out there – coil, hybrid, foam, pillow top, gel, water, memory foam, and latex.  If you’re interested in buying a horsehair mattress for $100,000 that’s available too.  It’s a dizzying array and then to make matters worse, once you decide on the type of mattress you then have to zero on the “firmness”.  Ah…and there’s the rub, so to speak.  What is firm to one person is soft to the next.  What is firm for one brand is medium-firm for another.  We found ourselves flopping down on mattresses like flounder on a ship’s deck.  And this is probably the place to mention that lying on a bed with your spouse, trying to replicate your actual sleeping positions while a salesman looms over you, is quite awkward.  Only to be outdone when the salesman puts you on a mattress with a moveable foundation.  There we were, lying on the mattress with him at the end of the bed wielding the remote control like a mad scientist.  Our legs and feet and shoulders were moving all over the place.  Then he started the massage feature.  I hated it.  It had all the soothing qualities of those massage beds you used to find in cheap hotels where you inserted a quarter and the mattress jumped around for five minutes.  But I must say I loved the idea of being able to sit up while reading in bed.  And the salesman, assessing our age, also noted helpfully that if one of us was ever incapacitated the mechanics of the bed would help us get out and on our feet easier.  We could choose from dual mattresses with individual controls or one big mattress.  And that’s where we ran into problems.  How would we handle Dash?

Despite my early intentions that our dog would never sleep on the bed, Dash and my husband conspired against me.  Dash now has a full-size pillow right between us at night.  I have to admit, I love hearing his breathing and he is always cuddling so now I wouldn’t think of kicking him out.  My husband has gone so far as to say he’d kick me out before the dog.  It’s always nice to know your station in life.  But…back to the mattress.  The problem with dual control is that there is a huge split down the middle of the bed – right where Dash sleeps.  The one big mattress with one control is – in my opinion – just another way to fight with your spouse.  Since everything moves at once you have to be in perfect agreement about when to stop reading so you can lower the bed.  I don’t know about your house but in ours we seldom turn off the light at the same time.  So all I could envision were endless arguments about bed raising/lowering and we have enough trouble just agreeing on the thermostat setting.

After trying out so many beds we were as confused as when we walked in.  I discovered that testing mattresses is a lot like wine tasting – after a while you have a tough time distinguishing between them.  Finally, we were, in fact, bamboozled by the salesman’s pitch and purchased the Tempurpedic mattress that can sense our body temperature, understand our pressure points, and adapt to our weight (good luck with that, buddy!).  It was twice the price of my first new car.  They will be delivering it this week and all I can say is – I hope Dash is happy.



20 comments on “ONCE UPON A MATTRESS

  1. Another nightmare I am putting off. My son set up a tent in his two year old daughter’s room. After being tucked in, she quietly leaves her high end crib and relocates her blanket and toys to the tent where she sleeps on the floor each night. I hope she is not in training to be a homeless first grader but obviously all the sales pitches on perfect crib conditions escaped her. I figure my temperature, pulse points and weight locations are not the business of a mattress or anyone except possibly a medical professional. The important feature is Dash’s comfort. I hope you forget about the high end dog beds at Pet Smart. Enjoy your new car…new bed!!! You deserve it!

  2. We went to a very few months ago to shop for a new mattress and it was frustrating, confusing, hysterical… I can think of many other adjectives!
    We got a Posturepedic with sleep numbers -ha – I can tell no difference in the settings.
    Kittens are good with it, but don’t like the noise associated with the change of levels… Can’t have everything!
    My favorite part is when the sales people tell you about how much heavier your mattress is than the day you bought it – thanks to things I don’t want to discuss🙀

    • And you don’t even have to worry about the “girls” sharing it!! If this turns out okay I’ll let you know – we went to the Mattress Firm by Sprouts so at least it’s close.

  3. Too funny! We went through the same sales pitch a few years ago, leaving very confused, thus, we still have the same mattress, many years old!!!!

  4. Well I am so glad that is over. I was reading furiously to get to your final decision! We have the same bed and love it, especially the massage feature. Enjoy

  5. We have been contemplating the purchase of a mattress as well and have put it off for the reasons you experienced. At some point the numbness in our limbs which wakes us in the middle of the night will force us to trek down to the mattress store. Looking into Tufts and Needle as an option. It comes delivered in a small box😳

    • I looked at T&N too but I really wanted to try one out before purchasing. Glad we did because there really was a difference. If you have a T&N showroom near you might be a good idea to try them. Good luck!

  6. Haha! Love this, Cuz! I have been putting off this adventure and after reading this I think I’ll put it off some more! 🙂 Hope Dash (you & your hubby too, of course) are happy with this purchase. To be continued??… 😀

    • The salesman actually told us that sleeping on the floor was too hard on my back. Hah! Just wanted to sell a mattress!!!

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