Mattress Myths Exposed
The Mattress Industry’s Dirty
20 Mattress Myths Exposed
Author: Phil Torbet Sleep Expert and Industrial Designer
A single ‘perfect’ mattress, with one firmness, will work for everyone.
The recently popular online mattress-in-a-box industry effectively offers ‘one perfect mattress’with a common firmness for everyone which they claim will satisfy all sleepers.
Almost every brand such as Casper, Purple, Leesa, Ghostbed, Eight, Nectar, and Nora, to name a few, offer a single mattress that they expect the entire world will love with a firmness chosen for them by the manufacturer. These brands want consumers to believe that they have developed ‘one magical mattress’ with a supposed magical formula.
Next time you are at a sports event or even at your office, look around and ask yourself a simple question – what are the odds that every person in the stadium or the office will like the same mattress? Does it make sense, or does it defy all logic? People are different heights, weights, body types and ages and they sleep in different positions so how can one mattress possibly satisfy every single sleeper in the world?
According to sleepnumber.com, this is the business model of the burgeoning mattress-in-a-box industry which ignores the possibility that not even two people can agree on a mattress they share (17).
In 12 years of observing people that have come to their showrooms to try their Sleep Number beds, as stated on sleepnumber.com, it was found that 86.5% of couples do not agree on the firmness they each desire. Almost 9 out of 10 couples want a different firmness from each other(17).
In fact, several of the newer entries into the mattress-in-a-box industry, such as Tulo, which is owned by Mattress Firm, offers three versions of their Tulo mattress in soft, medium and firm. Mattress Firm has excellent insight into the desires of consumers that is unparalleled.
Certain mattress companies have recognized the need for varying firmness options for each sleeper including Reverie, Helix, Luxi, and Morphiis. Each company offers sleepers the opportunity to have different firmness options for each sleeper on a mattress.
Helix asks customers to fill out a questionnaire and then makes a mattress with one of 3 firmness options on each side of the bed.
Luxi allows the customer to customize the firmness with one of 3 options on each side of the bed.
Morphiis allows the customer to choose from 64 firmness options for each sleeper and allows for targeted body-region customization for pregnant women or people with various body aches and pains.
Reverie offers similar customization to Morphiis but is 250% more expensive.
However, what about the tens of thousands of online high-average reviews? See myth below on this subject.
MYTH DEBUNKED – There is no such thing as one-magical-perfect-mattress for everybody, let alone the two sleepers who may share a bed.
Both sleepers on a bed will like the same firmness.
Almost the entire mattress industry assumes that both sleepers will like the same firmness for their bed. Whether it’s a low-priced import on Amazon, a Tuft & Needle mattress-in-a-box or a $10,000 Tempur-Pedic, they all assume both sleepers will want the same firmness for their side of the bed.
Why would one mattress feel the same, offer identical support and last the same amount of time for a 120-pound person and a 250-pound person? Would the same mattress still work if the two sleepers are 5’-1” and 6’3”? To put it simply - It wouldn’t.
According to the Huffington Post, it seems to be a growing trend among new mattress companies to try and cut out the complicated distinctions that come hand-in-hand with a catalog of various models. They try to make the case that all mattresses are mostly the same. However, it is still crucial to factor in variables such as a person’s natural sleeping position, any pre-existing sleeping difficulties or disorders, a person’s age and weight, and general preferences from prior mattress experiences (19).
The Sleep Number study mentioned above stated that 86.5% of couples do not agree on the same firmness for their mattress (17).
As noted above there are only a few mattress companies that are dealing with the obvious issue of differing firmness options for couples. Helix, Luxi, Morphiis, Reverie, Dux and Sleep Number seem to understand the matter.
Sleep Number claims to offer different firmness options. However, they only provide the opportunity to adjust support, not firmness. There is no such thing as ‘soft’ or ‘firm’ air.
Dux (really expensive) and Luxi, offer you a few choices you can customize at home. However, the only options you have available are to mix and match what they have included with the mattress with only three choices.
Morphiis offers the most choices, at an affordable price, by including 36 inserts with differing firmness levels that allow sleepers to adjust for various body regions if they want greater comfort control, have aches and pains or if they are pregnant.
Reverie offers similar options to Morphiis but at a much higher price. They also do not allow for a situation where both sleepers want the same configuration and require more dream-cells that are included with their mattress.
Helix gives the purchaser a choice of 3 firmness options but has no after-sale adjustability like Luxi, Morphiis, Dux or Reverie.
MYTH DEBUNKED – It is unlikely that both sleepers on a bed will like the same firmness. According to Sleep Number, almost 9 out of 10 couples disagree on the firmness they want.
A more expensive mattress means it is better quality.
The website thebest-mattress.org states that logic might lead people to believe that the more expensive a mattress is, the more comfortable it will be. However, again, this is merely a myth. Some brands are arbitrarily costly, charging top dollar while using cheaper materials. Likewise, a brand’s top-of-the-line mattress may not be the best fit for you. When shopping beds, look at what’s inside and consider comfort rather than reputation (1).
If a mattress manufacturer uses an embroidered logo or a fancy mattress cover does it translate into better sleep or is the manufacturer, ‘window dressing’ to entice a potential customer? Is a 10-inch mattress less comfortable than a 12-inch or 14-inch mattress or is it simply an addition of unneeded ‘raw materials’ to make the mattress look more substantial?
Perfect Pressure (the makers of Morphiis), wanted to know the response to this question, so they commissioned Dr. Jed Black, the former medical director of Stanford University’s Sleep Sciences Clinic, to develop a double-blind test to identify which mattress performed best in reducing pressure points. All While the brand was unknown to the tester and the technician gathering the data (22).
Seven twin mattresses, each with a black fitted-sheet to cover the brand, were tested including Tempur-Pedic, Sleep Number, Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Casper and Perfect Pressure to see which mattress had the lowest average pressure points on their hips and shoulders. Sort of like The Voice singing competition, but for mattresses.
Two women of differing weights, two men of differing weights and one non-human test fixture, each lay on each one of the seven mattresses for 3 minutes on five separate occasions. The Stanford technician recorded the pressure readings for each of the 175 tests for the shoulder and hip of the test subject.
After dropping the highest and lowest of the five readings for each test participant and averaging the remaining three results, the lowest price of the seven mattresses, the Perfect Pressure, the lowest priced mattress of the seven tested, achieved the lowest shoulder and hip results.
MYTH DEBUNKED – Expensive does not mean better quality or more comfort.
The higher the mattress’ height or profile, the better the mattress.
Is a 14-inch mattress better than a 10 inch? Is a 16 inch better than a 14 inch? Is it reasonable to assume that extra ‘height’ infers a better mattress? A certain thickness, depending on materials and construction is necessary, but excessive thickness doesn’t necessarily provide better sleep. It just adds to the ‘perceived value’ to justify more profit for the manufacturers and retailers.
The mattress industry creates models as thick as 16 inches, Marketed as luxury items, these super-thick mattresses hold promises of ultimate comfort and support. However, market studies have shown that only people who are significantly heavier than average will benefit from a mattress thickness of 14 inches or more.
As mentioned by drommabed.com, people of average weight may actually be less comfortable on a thicker mattress. Comfort aside, the increased cost of an overly thick mattress is something that nobody wants to take on without good reason. In addition to the heftier price tag of the mattress itself, customers often face considerably higher shipping and freight prices, as thicker mattresses may weigh too much for standard shipping to your home. It is also often quite difficult to find sheets that properly fit mattresses with thicknesses of more than 12 inches (12).
Most mattress-in-a-box companies make a 10-inch mattress. Some offer an ‘upgraded’ version at 12 inches and a ‘down-graded’ version of 8 inches. Ten inches seems to be the proper size for people up to 250 lbs. If you are over 250 lbs. the extra height will help.
MYTH DEBUNKED – A higher profile mattress means higher quality.
The more layers a mattress has the more comfortable it will be.
Certain mattress companies ‘brag’ about their number of layers and highlight the number of layers in comparison tables with their competitors, insinuating that multiple layers translate to increased comfort.
Most mattresses have 2 to 5 layers that are made up of memory foam, memory foam gel, latex, polyurethane or coils/springs. Mattress manufacturers vary these ‘slabs’ of foam or coils and brag about their alleged superior construction.
The ultimate ‘source’ to disprove this myth is the story of ‘The Princess and the Pea’ which has great relevance to this debate in that a 5 th layer at the bottom of a mattress likely has very little or no effect on a person ’s sleep experience.
Tuft and Needle, with over 100,000 positive reviews, has just two layers when compared to Casper and others which have 5. So, do layers matter?
It is also worth noting that the only way to attach each layer to each other is with glue which always results in less air flow between the layers.
The key is not how many layers you have but more so the firmness of the layers. Only Morphiis,Luxi, Reverie and Dux allow you to adjust the firmness of the layers which can affect the firmness of sleep surface.
MYTH DEBUNKED – More layers means better quality
A hybrid mattress with lots of coils means it is a better mattress.
Coil counts of innerspring beds are often considered a prime selling feature, but their importance may be overinflated. Brands offering high coil counts, sometimes more than 1000, often tend to charge considerably higher prices as well. However, the Sleeplikethedead website, with over 300,000 reviews, finds that coil counts aren’t necessarily predictive of comfort or durability. The type of coil and comfort layers are perhaps more critical to overall durability and satisfaction (1).
Coil count refers to the number ofcoils in the mattress. Most queen innerspring mattresses have acoil count of 450-900 with 725 being the average. Mattresses with a highercoil count are more expensive than mattresses with a lowercount, with all other variables remaining unchanged
Gauges of coils commonly range from 12 to 15, with lower numbers indicating thickercoils.The coil gauge is what primarily affects the comfort levels ofmattresses. A higher gaugecoil provides a softer, springier feel, whereas a lowcoil gauge offers firm pushback.
Despite what many might want you to believe, higher coil counts do not necessarilymean you are getting a better mattress. To get more coils into the mattresses, they have to make the coils smaller.
If more is better, then why not put millions of tiny-springs into a mattress? Wouldn’t that make for a far stronger, more supportive, comfy bed?
The fact is that the more coils that are added, the smaller they become, and the wire used to make the springs get thinner and weaker. You can think of more coils as an easy way for a mattress manufacturer to raise the price of a bed. Making the situation worse is the fact that while shopping you really cannot see the inside of these mattresses making it very confusing.
Do not judge a mattress on coil count by itself, as this can be misleading and quite frankly it is designed to be that way. Mattress manufacturers base their coil counts on various sizes. One may base their 530-coil count on a full size, while another base theirs on a queen size coil count at 660 coils. The average shopper would miss the small detail of the two different bed sizes. Sometimes retailers intentionally don’t discuss what the number is based upon to impress you while diverting your attention from the fact the number is not based on the same size.
Finally, different mattresses having an equal number of coils can have a completely different feel by merely tweaking the quilting pattern or the layers of upholstery on top of the coil spring unit. Consumer Reports said it best - coil count doesn’t matter.
MYTH DEBUNKED – The higher the coil count, the better the mattress.
A firm mattress is the best solution for back pain.
Again, thebest-mattress.org mentions that conventional wisdom has touted firm mattresses as ideal for back support, but modern studies say medium to medium-firm might be better. A bed that is too firm can force your hips and shoulders up and leave your lower back unsupported. The best mattress for you is one that is both firm enough to provide full-body support, and soft enough to accept your body’s curvature and prevent pressure points (1) .
The website sleepworks.com says that the idea that ‘firm’ equals support not only has some folks choosing a bed that is too firm, but it also mischaracterizes the meaning of support. Support addresses the shape of the body and postural stability. Bodies are curvy, not flat, and our natural posture isn’t genuinely supported by hard, unyielding surfaces. An overly firm mattress can result in spinal misalignment and uncomfortable contact pressure. An appropriately firm mattress bears the weight of the body without collapsing while providing sufficient give to support curvy areas like shoulders, low backs, and hips. Finding the firmness that is right for a specific sleeper should be a subjective process—not a default to firm (2) .
The blog frontdoor.furniturerow.com says it best that there’s long been a belief that firmer mattresses are more supportive and are thus better for those suffering back problems. But according to them, “this may be the case for some, but no two people are alike, and each body equires a different level of firmness for comfort…Rather than zeroing in on the firmest mattress on the showroom floor, explore a variety of support levels–and, the range of mattress types–before making a decision (4) .”
The Morphiis mattress, as well as the Reverie mattress, offer adjustable firmness levels to target various body regions such that sleepers can have a firm torso/lumbar region and soft shoulder and hip regions. These two mattresses offer the ultimate control in personalized sleep comfort. No other mattresses provide this option, not even Sleep Number.
It’s a common misconception, according to frontdoor.furniturerow.com, that a firmer mattress is a better mattress. Orthopedists once recommended sleeping on an extremely firm mattress, but there’s little evidence to support that view. The optimal surface is purely subjective, says Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research. Alan Hedge, Ph.D., a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, noted that the best mattress supports your spine at all points while allowing it to maintain its natural curve. By age 40, according to Hedge, skin loses elasticity and becomes more sensitive to pressure points, which argues for a softer, more cushiony surface as you age. “Slightly softer works better because there’s less compression on the skin,” he said (6) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – A firm mattress is a solution for a bad back.
Fancy designs, embroidery, and tufting mean it’s a better mattress.
You know those fancy-looking mattresses with embroidered logos and silk or satin covers that are so soft to the touch? Think about it once you put on a mattress pad and cover sheets or blankets, you won’t even feel that silky-smooth surface. An unnecessary ‘luxury’ allows mattress companies to boost the price of a mattress that would otherwise cost far less. “When trying out a new mattress at the store, an individual should pay attention to the support and the padding to determine if it’s a good fit, not that expensive silk covering or embroidered logos. Many buyers end up paying far more money than they should.” Stated americanmattressgallery.com (18) .
The Perfect Pressure double-blind clinical trial proved categorically that none of the on-bed marketing is meaningful to improving your sleep(22) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – Fancy on-bed marketing does not mean a better mattress nor does it affect the quality of a person’s sleep.
A common firmness mattress from head-to-toe is the best mattressconstruction to reduce pressure points
Most mattresses in the mattress industry have a common firmness sleep surface from head to toe. Whether it’s the legacy brands like Tempur-Pedic, Sleep Number, Sealy, Simmons, and Serta, or the mattress-in-a-box brands like Purple, Leesa, Tuft & Needle, Saatva, Ghostbed, Nectar or Eight, the sleep surface is a common firmness from head-to-toe.
These mattress brands usually use a graphic of a woman lying on her side to demonstrate how the mattress contours and conforms to her body and results in a properly aligned spine. What these graphics NEVER show is the pressure points created in the shoulder and hips by this construction.
Several brands have recognized that this mattress construction is not the best approach to reduce pressure points. Companies such as Morphiis, Reverie, Dormeo, Spring Air, Snuz and most recently, Casper, have recognized the importance of a ‘zoned’ construction.
The difference between the two constructions is a recognition that there should be increased support in the lumbar region of a sleeper when sleeping on their sides.
If there is no firm support in the torso/lumbar region, the weight of a sleeper’s body and gravity cause their lowest extremities, when sleeping on their sides, such as their shoulders and hips, to bear most of their weight and thereby cause pressure points to occur. This can easily be seen with pressure maps.
By increasing the firmness of a mattress in the torso/lumbar region and the thigh region, a sleeper’s shoulders and hips receive less pressure than they otherwise would. This reduces the constriction of blood flow to the soft tissues (ischemia), which is a primary cause of tossing and turning.
This concept was first tested by the author of this article with Dr. Clete Kushida of Stanford University in 2009. Dr. Kushida’s tests confirmed that zoned construction outperformed a traditional firmness construction(25) .
This concept was once again clearly demonstrated when in 2015, Perfect Pressure (the makers of Morphiis), commissioned Dr. Jed Black, the former medical director of Stanford University’s Sleep Sciences Clinic, to develop a double-blind test to assess which mattress performed best in reducing pressure points when the brand was unknown to the tester and the technician gathering the data (22) .
Seven twin mattresses, each with a black fitted-sheet to cover the brand, were tested including Tempur-Pedic, Sleep Number, Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Casper and Perfect Pressure to see which mattress had the lowest average pressure points on their hips and shoulders. Sort of like The Voice singing competition, but for mattresses. Each of the national brand mattresses had a common firmness from head-to-toe, and only the Perfect Pressure mattress had softer firmness zones under the sleepers’ shoulder and hip regions and firmer zones under the lumbar and thigh areas.
Two women of differing weights, two men of differing weights and one non-human test fixture,each laid on each of the seven mattresses for 3 minutes on five separate occasions. The Stanford technician recorded the pressure readings for each of the 175 tests for the shoulder and hip of the test subject.
After dropping the highest and lowest of each of the five readings for each test participant and averaging the remaining three results, the lowest price of the seven mattresses, the Perfect Pressure, achieved the lowest shoulder and hip results confirming that this mattress construction method was superior to all others.
The results of these studies were recently confirmed by the engineers at Casper’s Sleep Lab in San Francisco when they introduced their new Casper Wave, at double the price, of the original Casper and boasted about its enhanced pressure relieving construction.
Almost all of the zoned support mattresses like Casper, Dormeo, Snuz and Spring Air offered predetermined zoning that is established by the manufacturer. Zones that cannot be changed by the sleeper and zones that must deal with sleepers that are 5’-1” to 6’-4”.
Only Morphiis and Reverie offer target-zones that can be set by the consumer depending upon their height and sleeping position.
MYTH DEBUNKED – a mattress made with a common firmness from head-to-toe will optimize reducing pressure points.
Memory foam mattresses sleep cool.
The nugget of truth beneath this widely-held myth is that through polling, consumers have more frequently reported their memory foam mattresses as sleeping hot. According to agoodnightsleepstore.com, this is true as reports of temperature problems have been higher for these types of beds as opposed to other mattresses (8).
The website themattressunderground.com mentions that it also has some drawbacks because of its very different qualities and structure. It tends to sleep hot for those who are sensitive to this, and even the newer more breathable memory foams are not as breathable or open-celled as other varieties of foam (16).
The development of ‘cooling memory foam gel’ is an admission by the memory foam industry that regular memory foam can sleep hot. If not, why would you need ‘cooling gel’?
Most of the mattress-in-a-box companies use a layer of memory foam in their products. Morphiis and Tuft & Needle do not, allowing the sleeper to sleep ‘on-the-mattress’ rather than ‘in-the-mattress.’
Morphiis has proved with their double-blind clinical study that you do not need more expensive memory foam to achieve improved reduction of pressure points, so why put up with the potential sleeping-hot issues of memory foam?
The mattress industry likes to market memory foam as if it’s the greatest invention since sliced bread, but it is not for everyone, and it is not perfect. For example, memory foam is often touted as offering superior support, but in fact, memory foam is not that great of a support layer. It is much more of a comfort layer. This is why you will never see a memory foam mattress made entirely from memory foam. These mattresses always consist of a layer of memory foam placed over a much more supportive layer of flexible polyurethane foam or an innerspring system.
The website sleepinglikealog.com states that the overall firmness, support and “recovery rate” (the speed at which the foam returns to its uncompressed state) are also affected by temperature and humidity. This is because the viscoelastic foam is a temperature sensitive material and there is a direct correlation between temperature and recovery rate. When the temperature is very cold, memory foam can become extremely firm. Part of what makes the foam conform and adapt to the body is that it's responding to the heat from your body, and as a result, the foam can collect quite a bit of heat. (26)
MYTH DEBUNKED– Memory foam mattresses sleep cool.
Memory foam mattresses are easy to move around on.
Since memory foam is a “slow recovery foam” - it traps the body. It is more difficult to roll-out of the body impression that can form, especially during romantic activities. With memory foam, you effectively ‘sleep-in’ the mattress and allow your body heat to be captured inside the body impression you create.
Memory foam adjusts to the temperature of its environment. If the room is too cold, the memory foam will harden and lose its softness and response mechanism. Even though memory foam is considered an open cell urethane, it is inherently warmer than other polyurethane foams. Memory foam on the sleep surface tends to sleep hot causing the sleeping individuals to sweat.
It can also present problems for those who prefer some ‘assistance’ in their movements on a mattress as memory foam responds very slowly to new and changing positions. Some have even described it as akin to ‘sleeping in the sand.’ Finally, it is difficult to control how far you sink into a memory foam layer as it may soften over the course of the night and what started out as correct spinal alignment could turn into a ‘hammock’ position and a backache by morning (16).
The site sleeplikethedead.com says it best, “ease of movement (especially during romantic activities) tends to be prevented by dense memory foam mattresses that are highly pressure sensitive and conforming or mattresses that don't always have or maintain a flat, level surface.” Memory foam received a D grade for ‘easy to move on’ on their website (23) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – Memory foam mattresses do not cause restricted movement.
Gel memory foam allows you to sleep cool all night.
Gel-infused foams have been making waves the past few years by being bolstered by manufacturer claims that foam with gels sleep cooler than foams without gel. However, there is little to no proof that gel foams contribute to cooler sleep than other modern memory foams.For example, according to thebest-mattress.org, the BBB’s National Advertising Division requested that Serta stop making such claims in 2013 and Consumer Reports’ testers also found little discernable difference in breathability between the gel and non-gel beds (1).
It looks like all of those complaints about ‘sleeping hot’ have spawned the next wave in memory foam mattress marketing: gel-infused memory foam, like Serta’s iComfort series. The new gel foams claim to sleep cooler than regular memory foam, and they have Tempurpedic playing defense after decades of dominating the memory foam market.
Branded as ‘Cool Action Gel Memory Foam,’ Serta describes its foam as having millions of “MicroSupport” gel beads. Made from polyurethane, the beads are designed to make the foam’s surface feel cooler. However, all the gel-buzz makes it easy to lose sight of the real problem: memory foam—gel infused or not—sleeps hot because it lacks breathability.
According to sleepworks.com, we all perspire at night: it is the way our body regulates temperature. Without breathable materials, humidity mounts, and our perspiration can’t evaporate efficiently to cool us down. When we say a mattress sleeps hot, it’s the elevated humidity that leads to discomfort.
Also, according to sleepworks.com, the heat index commonly associated with weather explains it well. It’s a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. A 90-degree day with 60% humidity will feel like 100 degrees. Your bed is a micro- climate subject to the same effect. Our sleep is disturbed when we’re sweaty and hot, not warm and dry (2).
MYTH DEBUNKED – Cooling gel memory foam solves the hot sleeping problem of memory foam
A pillow top mattress is the most comfortable.
Around a decade ago, as stated by sleepworks.com, a new trend in mattresses emerged: the luxury ‘pillow-top’ mattress. Mattresses that were once a standard 7-10 inches thick have ballooned with a promise of greater luxury and comfort. In reality, many pillow top mattresses are constructed from extra layers of low-density polyurethane foam prone to premature sag. The result—neither luxurious nor supportive— is a mattress that lacks surface elasticity and dynamic contour. (2) .
Simplesleepservices.com states that the ‘pillow-top’ mattress is just a fancy way to describe a type of traditional mattress. The term was created as a marketing gimmick to differentiate one company’s product from another. The soft, cushy pillow-top feel boils down to the structure of the mattress and can be achieved with a regular mattress. Pillow-top mattresses can end up with indentations of your body after a little while too, rendering them less comfortable.(5).
Sleeplikethedead.com compared pillow top and non-pillow top mattresses based on actual consumer experiences. The findings apply mostly to innerspring mattresses and found that for longevity/durability, easy to maintain, edge support and easy to move on/get up off, pillow-tops received a grade of D. All non-pillow-tops received better grades.(23)
A significant disadvantage of a pillow top mattress is the uncomfortable impressions that develop as you sleep. If you roll over or change positions, it might feel like you're sinking into dips created by the weight of your body's pressure points. You can't flip a pillow top mattress over - the cushioning is on one side only.(28)
MYTH DEBUNKED – Pillow-top mattresses are the most comfortable.
Latex mattresses are always natural.
Thebest-mattress.org remarks that though latex mattresses are often classified as more eco- friendly and healthier alternatives to traditional beds, not all latex is created equally. Synthetic latex, or styrene butadiene rubber, is made from petroleum-based ingredients and other chemicals that do not offer the same benefits associated with natural latex. The majority of latex on the market is a blend of synthetic and natural latex, and latex mattresses can still have chemical flame retardants and other unnatural materials. Companies can also classify latex as ‘natural’ even when it contains as little as 30% natural materials. If the natural or environmental benefits are important, a purchaser should make sure the mattress is using 100% natural latex, and that other materials are also natural(1).
Not all latex mattresses are 100% natural. Synthetic latex can be made of various materials, but are typically made with a specific type of plastic called SBR, or Styrene Butadiene Rubber, which is commonly used as a substitute for natural rubber. This plastic is often used for artificial turfs for children, and research has shown the chemical to be safe, though there is some controversy surrounding it.
According to Purple.com, a synthetic mattress is probably not going to have the durability of an all-natural latex mattress and doesn’t have the same springiness to it that many look for in a natural latex mattress.(27)
MYTH DEBUNKED – All latex mattresses are natural.
You shouldn’t buy an online mattress because you need to lie on the mattress before you buy it to ‘kick the tires.’
This myth has been around for awhile, and at face value, it makes sense. After all, how will you know if you like a bed unless you try it? However, the showroom experience doesn’t tell you how a mattress will feel after a full night of sleep, or how it will feel after a month of sleep or even how it might feel when you are not wearing street clothes. Showrooms can make it difficult to pick the right mattress because selection is limited,salespeople may steer you towards a poor fit or mattresses with the best profit margins, and it can be hard to get comfortable lying down in the middle of a busy store. Because showroom beds are often broken in, how it feels in the store may not be how it feels at home. Whether you buy in a store or online, the most important thing is that you can return or exchange if needed (1) .
Lying on a mattress for a couple of minutes will not give you a good idea of its comfort. Believe it or not, the best way to test a mattress is to sleep on it. Most online retailers are offering mattresses with free shipping and free returns. Simplesleepservices.com gives this advice: Avoid buying a mattress that does not have an option to return it within a certain number of days(5).
Selecting the best option in a showroom setting is no more likely to get you a comfortable mattress than buying online. Common recommendations state that you should spend at least 20 minutes lying on each mattress you are considering.
Even if you narrow down your selection to a specific price range and firmness, you could still face an ample selection of mattresses to test personally. Let’s say, for example, one store offers six models, and another store five. At 20 minutes per mattress, you’ll spend four hours relaxing under the glaring fluorescent lights. Not to mention all the while you’ll be fending off pushy salespeople. Does this sound like your ideal Saturday? Common recommendations state that you should spend at least 20 minutes lying on each mattress you are considering. At least.
More than likely, customers shortcut test time, and spend 20 minutes total with all mattresses. Even if you diligently wait out the full duration, studies show that you are still pretty terrible at picking out the best bed in a showroom setting.
The independent, non-profit research group, RTI let participants select their top choice of seven beds in a showroom setting (think like all Mattress Firm locations), then gave them each one to try for one month. The participants did not know which bed they initially chose, and the mattresses arrived in a random order. Participants maintained sleep quality journals and underwent electronic monitoring. The study found that people selected the bed after the study they ultimately rated best at the beginning only 38% of the time(14) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – You cannot properly buy a mattress unless you have tried it out in a showroom.
You need to buy a new mattress every eight years.
The bedding industry recommends replacing your mattress every eight years, but like most blanket statements, this won’t always be true. Some beds can last years longer while others may lose support after only a few years. You don’t need to replace a mattress that’s still comfortable and supportive at eight years on the dot, but even the highest quality beds are typically on their last legs by 12-15 years or so. If your mattress is causing you pain, has deep impressions, or is no longer comfortable to sleep on, it’s time to replace no matter how old it is (1).
Chiromatic.com states that the vast majority of people believe that you should replace your mattress every 7 to 10 years; this is not a correct belief, because the life of a mattress is variable, also depending on the mattress manufacturer or brand. The life expectancy can increase considerably if you take good care of the mattress, how much you sleep on it and also how much activity you have during the night. The life of a mattress depends a lot on how you feel and how much quality sleep you can get. If at some point, your mattress fails to deliver ample support and comfort, you know it is time to buy a new one(3).
For example, the Morphiis mattress, with 36 comfort-inserts provided with each mattress, allow sleepers to change the ‘guts’ of the mattress after the passing of time if the foam starts sagging. This is like repairing the broken brick on an otherwise perfectly functioning wall. This is why Morphiis has a 25-year warranty.
Additionally, Morphiis offers a patented topper that allows sleepers to customize the firmness they want and as such, buying a topper can increase the life of your mattress before it’s ready for the junkyard.
MYTH DEBUNKED – You need to change your mattress every eight years.
Those deep-discounts from mattress retailers during every holiday are real discounts.
Large retailer discounts are an artificial means of attracting consumers to ‘holiday discount sales’ to reduce the price to what it actually should be.
Mattress salespeople's power comes from the fact that they know what a fair price is for each mattress and you do not. They make it impossible to compare mattresses from different retailers by using different sub-branding and not telling you ‘what’s inside.’ Many mattress stores invent hugely inflated ‘standard’ retail prices and then offer ‘discounts’ that still price the mattress way above its actual cost. Department stores are particularly notorious for this.
For example, vox.com mentions that a price tag might claim that a mattress normally costs $3,000 but is currently available for 60 percent off at $1,200. In reality, no one ever pays $3,000; $1,200 is the regular price. Moreover, if you negotiate effectively, you'll be able to get it for hundreds of dollars less (20) .
We’re having a huge sale! This model usually retails for $4,500, and it’s on sale for $1,500! A disturbing number of places have fake ‘retail’ prices or ‘list’ prices that the product has never sold at. Department stores are the worst offenders, but some mattress specialty stores have started doing this as well. Pay little attention to the regular retail price of an item. There’s a psychological trick known as anchoring that some retailers try to abuse to make you think you’re getting a good deal. The idea is that your brain latches onto the first piece of information you get about something you’re deciding on. In this case, it’s the fake ‘retail’ price. Your brain sees this high price, and ‘anchors’ your expectations that the price is a legitimate one(21).
MYTH DEBUNKED – Mattress retail prices and sale discounts can be trusted
You should buy a mattress with the longest warranty
Mattress warranties can be confusing. The warranty does not refer to the life expectancy of the mattress itself, but rather the materials and quality. It will cover manufacturer defects or structural issues resulting from normal use. It does not guarantee that you will like the mattress or that the mattress will still be comfortable in 10 years. Before selecting a warranty, be sure to read the fine print and get an understanding of what it entails (5) . Be especially careful of those companies offering a ‘Forever Warranty’ as foam does not last forever. Read the fine print. These companies are betting that you will eventually simply buy a new mattress.
When buying a new mattress, read the warranty carefully even though there’s very little difference in the terms and conditions of warranties from manufacturer to manufacturer. It’s good to note that transportation costs (to and from the factory) are usually not covered in the case of repair or replacement. Also, a new warranty is usually not issued when the mattress is replaced (15) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – The mattress with the longest warranty is the best.
You can trust all of those high-average consumer online reviews.
Mattress manufacturers NEVER disclose their return rates which are effectively 0-star reviews, nor do they allow a reviewer to give a 0-star review. In the recent IPO of Eve Mattress in the UK, they disclosed a return rate of 15%. If you added these 0-star returns to their average, their average would go way down
For example, Casper claims to have an average of 4.4 on 11,000+ reviews for the ‘regular’ Casper as at May 2018 on their website. Casper also claims that they have ‘nearly one million’ purchasers. So, if Casper had even a 10% return rate, unlike the 15% reported by Eve, that would mean at least 10,000 mattresses were returned with a 0-star rating, as they do not allow ratings less than 1-star. Moreover, while some of those 0-star returns are likely reported in the 11,000+ reviews, one can see that a 4.4 average rating is not likely to be accurate. You be the judge!
Bedfed.org.uk states that researchers at Boston University found that 95% of experiences on Airbnb, the home-sharing site, received ratings of 4.5 to 5. Of course, not every apartment or home is perfect, nor is every mattress perfect for everybody. So, buyers should consider the all- or-nothing nature of star ratings. It is important to also consider the motivation behind the reviewer and both the positive and negative comments along with the star ratings (13) .
MYTH DEBUNKED – All of those high-average online reviews are a true picture of what consumers think.
Most mattresses-in-a-box will work properly on an adjustable bed frame
The latest craze in the mattress industry is the adjustable, motorized bed frame with multiple positions and the most popular, zero-gravity position (like an astronaut ready for blast off).
However, most mattress-in-a-box and regular mattresses do not offer fabric or a mattress construction that easily allows the mattress to conform to an adjustable bed frame, especially in the zero-gravity position.
In fact, most websites air-brush the photos of the mattress in the zero-gravity position to eliminate the obvious creases that will form, and they normally show the zero-gravity position only with sheets and covers and sleepers to avoid showing that the mattress may not easily contour to the bed frame.
Only the Morphiis mattress has dealt head-on with this issue by ‘notching’ the bottom of its mattress and using a stretchable fabric on the sides of the mattress to ensure the mattress can contour to the adjustable bed frame.
MYTH DEBUNKED – All mattresses will work properly with an adjustable bed frame.
(22) Dr. Jed Black double-blind test, www.mymorphiis.com
(25) Dr. Clete Kushida test in 2009, mymorphiis.com