Simmons Beautyrest Avondale Luxury Firm Mattress, $999. (Simmons/COURTESY OF SLEEPY'S)

There are few household staples you have as intimate a relationship with as your mattress. Yet you often don’t realize you need a new one until your back pain becomes chronic. Or one day, you catch an awesome night’s sleep in a hotel or someone’s guest room.

After getting that wake-up call, consumers who haven’t been in a bedding department in a while find lots of choices. Besides innerspring, there are memory foam, latex and adjustable air beds. One way to prevent wear and tear is to not use your bed as an office (for texting and tweeting) or as a noshing station. The International Sleep Products Association recommends replacing a mattress every seven years. As spokeswoman Karin Mahoney says, “The bed should be your oasis.”


Gel technology. A new layer in some models adds resiliency; some versions are similar to a shoe gel insert. Gel can serve as a shock absorber or have a cooling effect.

Adjustability. If you insist on using your laptop in bed, there are new versions of adjustable mattresses that are nothing like a clunky traditional hospital bed. A press of a button lifts your head or feet to an inclined position. Good for snorers or acid-reflux sufferers.

Better coil construction. Coils have been designed in stronger alloys such as titanium.


Pads. Always protect your mattress with a pad to keep it free of stains, rips and dampness. Special encasement pads protect against bed bugs.

Follow directions. Most mattresses today, including pillow-tops, are one-sided and require only rotating. If labeled no-flip, do not flip.


We spoke to Neil Zimmer, general merchandise manager of Sleepy’s, who has been in the mattress business for 25 years. He selected three levels of mattresses from the store. Sleepy’s has more than 800 stores nationally, and more than 100 in the Washington area. Prices quoted are for a queen-size mattress and box spring; a low-profile (five-inch-high) box spring is available for all three models.

Simmons Beautyrest Avondale Luxury Firm Mattress

One of the chain’s best-selling mattresses.
The innerspring with latex comfort layer is available in either firm or plush. Reinforced edges help prevent you from rolling off. No-flip style. Mattress height:
11 inches. Box spring: nine inches. $999.

Stearns & Foster Cora Luxury Plush Eurotop Mattress

Innerspring construction features coil-within-a-coil that conforms to body curves. The mattress is made with cashmere, foam and latex. Eight vertical handles for easy lifting. Long-lasting titanium coils.
No-flip style. Mattress height: 14 inches. Box spring: nine inches. $1,349.

Tempur-Pedic Tempur Cloud Supreme

An alternative mattress made of visco-elastic “memory foam.” One layer conforms to and supports your body in spinal alignment; a second layer gives a pillow-like feel. Removable, washable cover is allergen- and dust mite-resistant. No-flip style. Mattress height: 11 inches. Foundation: nine inches. $2,999.


1. Test-drive your purchase. Arrive in the store dressed in casual clothes, and take off your shoes. Lie down on several models. Lie on the bed for at least 10 minutes. Try a few positions, and be aware of how the mattress supports your lower back, shoulders and hips.

2. Don’t think you can just replace your mattress and keep your old box spring. Unless you have a platform bed or adjustable bed, it’s essential that you buy the matching box spring to act as a foundation for a new mattress. The two are designed to work together. Many models are available with a shorter box spring that can make getting in and out of bed easier.

3. Experts say that if at all possible, choose a queen size over a full. Shocking truth: A full bed shared by two sleepers provides both with personal space equal to the width of a crib, according to the International Sleep Products Association.



The average number of years it takes for someone to replace a mattress.

4 most popular mattress sizes

Queen 37 percent

Twin 24 percent

Full 18 percent

King 10 percent


Amount of times we toss and turn per night while sleeping.

Sources: Better Sleep Council; International Sleep Products Association; Sleepy’s

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m.

Karin Mahoney of the International Sleep Products Association joins staff writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for our weekly online Q&A about decorating and household advice.


Fans | Vacuums | Dishwashers | Dehumidifiers | Refrigerators | Toasters | Blenders |Irons | Washers and dryers | Microwaves | Ranges | Televisions